If you’re a security nut, browsing at a public hotspot can be like showering in a public bathroom. You might have no other option, depending on your circumstances, but you’re bound to feel a little creeped out and you’d probably rather have some flip flops on. Think of Hotspot Shield as flip-flops for your computer. And now for your iPhone, too.
AnchorFree’s Hotspot Shield for computers installs a client on your desktop or notebook that sets up a virtual private network, helping to ensure that you stay anonymous and secure while browsing. Hotspot Shield for iPhone employs the same concept, minus the client, allowing you to browse securely from your mobile device.
I’ve used Hotspot Shield with my MacBook before, and found little cause for complaint. There are some hiccups when streaming large media, and an ad is displayed at the top of your window, though Hotspot Shield itself is free.
Hotspot Shield for iPhone is also a free service, although it does require registering an account with AnchorFree. Registering is incredibly painless, however, you just click a button and receive your account name and password.
You also have to change your VPN settings on the iPhone. Make sure your Wi-Fi is off, and go to Settings > General > Network > VPN, and then click Add VPN Configuration. At this screen, you’ll have to enter the following information:
- Select the L2TP tab/pane (selected by default)
- Description: HotspotShield
- Server: 126.96.36.199
- Account: <your account name>
- RSA SecurID: OFF
- Password: <your password>
- Secret: password
- Send all traffic: ON
Save settings and turn Wi-Fi back on. According to AnchorFree, you may have to power cycle your device to get the settings to take effect if you experience connection errors.
Once set up, you will be shielded from prying eyes by a VPN connection between your device and the 3G or wireless network to which you are connected. AnchorFree claims that you are 100% secure behind Hotspot Shield, ensuring that no hackers can gain access to your emails, credit card or banking information, sensitive documents, or whatever else you may have stored on your device.
Hotspot Shield is clearly aimed at business users, but anyone who doesn’t relish the thought of strangers coveting their personal information will enjoy the peace of mind it brings.