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Is Hotspot Shield Safe?

HotspotSheild

No, Hotspot Shield is not safe, mainly because of the provider’s headquarters location and a dodgy privacy policy. However, the provider currently has over 650 million users, thanks to the popular free version, various common security features, and 3200+ servers in 80+ countries, but the answer to “is Hotspot Shield safe?” remains the same.

So despite the clear disadvantage concerning jurisdiction and logging policy, the provider is currently one of the most popular free VPNs out there.

We will be looking at the security features offered by Hotspot Shield to determine what makes it not so safe for VPN users. Also, if you are interested in knowing about some other reliable and safe VPN providers, then we suggest you check out our best free VPN providers in the 2022 list.

However, if you wish to receive dependable and guaranteed online security and safety while surfing cyberspace, we highly recommend opting for a popular premium VPN service.

To help you make the best decision for yourself, we have gathered the most trustworthy premium VPNs for you.

Let’s continue with our article and see what contributions this provider makes to your online security and safety.

Hotspot Shield’s Jurisdiction

Hotspot Shield’s headquarter is located in the United States of America. A country that is one of the founding members of the five eyes, seven eyes, and 14 eyes alliance group. Originally, it was owned by AnchorFree, a Switzerland-based company, but in 2009, it was bought by Pango, which Aura, a US-based company, later procured.

This is a big eyebrow-raiser for most privacy-conscious users, and we can understand if they wouldn’t want to trust Hotspot Shield with their online privacy and security. But, unfortunately, the United States has a past filled with multiple reports or incidents of various government agencies asking for customers’ data and connection logs for their own purposes.

When it comes to privacy, Hotspot Shield doesn’t exactly have a favorable past. According to a 2016 report, the Centre for Democracy and Technology recorded a complaint against Hotspot Shield with the Federal Trade Commission in August 2017.

While the provider has been trying to clean up its privacy policy, things will not start to get better unless the headquarter is moved from the United States.

Hotspot Shield’s Encryption

Hotspot Shield uses military-grade AES-256-Bit encryption for encrypting internet traffic. This is the same encryption algorithm that the government of the United States uses for securing classified information. The encryption is available for both the free and premium Hotspot Shield subscriptions.

This algorithm is accessible for both the private and public sectors, and due to the higher-length key sizes, it is quite difficult to bypass. It is also the most commonly used security algorithm today, applied in almost everything from data storage to wireless communications.

Apart from the encryption algorithm, Hotspot Shield also offers its own developed Catapult Hydra protocol. This protocol is fastest than other protocols while at the same time secure as well.

In terms of providing encryption, you should remain calm as the chances of your data being compromised are close to impossible.

Privacy Policy

The fact that Hotspot Shield’s headquarter is located in the United States makes it very difficult to believe the provider when it says, “it doesn’t store any connection logs.”

Saying that we weren’t impressed with Hotspot Shield’s Privacy Policy would be the understatement of the year. While they say that they don’t keep any logs, there are multiple places where they have mentioned that they record various information for different purposes.

According to their Privacy Policy, here is the information they do collect:

  • Account information  – Name, username, email address, and password. For their identity protection products, they will also ask your Social Security Number and other personal information.
  • Billing and payment information – Billing details such as the name on the credit card, billing address, and other billing details.
  • Identity verification information – Email address or phone number for identity verification.

In addition, according to the provider, they have only provided the VPN IP addresses to third-party advertisers and not the actual IP address. So even if they keep a record of the VPN IP addresses, what prevents them from keeping a record of actual IP addresses and locations that could lead anyone back to the VPN user.

Read Hotspot Shield’s Privacy Policy for further details.

Internet Kill Switch

Internet Kill Switch is an effective tool for safeguarding your actual location and IP address if the VPN is disconnected due to some reason. When the VPN disconnect due to any reason, this feature will terminate the complete internet connectivity from your device. This will result in the prevention of your actual IP and location getting leaked online.

The only drawback Hotspot Shield has is that it offers Internet Kill Switch only on Windows and Android devices. At the same time, most of the popular VPN providers offer this feature on all four major operating systems, including Mac and iOS.

DNS & IP Leak Protection

Hotspot Shield can be considered safe to use because it passed all of our DNS leak tests.

Hotspot Shield’s DNS leak protection feature is enabled by default, but you can always disable it from the application’s settings. While it doesn’t officially support IPv6 and WebRTC leak protection, it passed with flying colors when I tested it for those.

Another feature that makes this provider quite safe to use is called “Auto-Protect,” which automatically allows Hotspot Shield to connect whenever you have connected with a public Wi-Fi.

FAQs

Let’s take a look at some of the frequently asked questions.

No, Hotspot Shield is neither a virus nor an anti-virus. Instead, it’s a virtual private network that creates an encrypted tunnel for your internet traffic to keep it safe and secure from hackers.

Yes and No, while it does protect your internet traffic with military-grade encryption, the fact that its headquarter is located in the United States of America and the provider collects identifiable information regarding its users makes it difficult to trust it fully.

There’s no concrete evidence to support this statement. Although, there have been numerous allegations that Hotspot Shield sells user data to advertising agencies. However, AnchorFree has denied these allegations but confirmed that the provider does collect some data concerning the websites and apps visited by the users.

Final Thoughts

While this service does offer a decent amount of security features that can easily ensure 100% online privacy, security, and data protection, I would still not recommend this provider.

Even though it has 650 million subscribers largely due to the free period, its jurisdiction and very vague and misguiding log policy prevent this provider from getting into my bad books. You can learn about everything this provider has to offer in our in-depth and detailed Hotspot Shield Review.

So if you are looking for a reliable, safe, decent, and reasonable free VPN for your online security and other purposes, I strongly suggest that you check out ProtonVPN, Windscribe, or TunnelBear.

Gerald Hunt's Biography :


Gerald is a steadfast believer in the inviolable right of every citizen to freedom of expression. Writing about online privacy and security without any regard for political correctness is his way to counter the instruments threatening our liberty. In his spare time, he loves to binge watch Netflix, anime and play video games.


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