Hotspot Shield lets your Android surf safely over public Wi-Fi

Looking for a little safety and mobile privacy at that public hotspot? AnchorFree’s Hotspot Shield app might be worth the look for your smartphone: The company launched an Android(s goog) version of the mobile app in Google Play on Thursday, complementing its iOS(s aapl) edition that was introduced last year. The software is a multi-purpose utility, combining VPN web browsing with anti-malware and broadband data compression.
Normally, I’m not a fan of security focused software; I generally find that if you’re smart about what you install and where you surf online, your risk of infection is fairly minimal. But given how open the Android Market is — apps aren’t under vigorous review — and a history of widespread malware apps hitting Android devices, I don’t think such solutions are a bad idea. And by combining other useful features, such as private browsing on public networks and reducing bandwidth, Hotspot Shield becomes a little more compelling.
There are two versions of Hotspot Shield: One free and one called “Elite”, which costs $1.99 per month or $19.99 for a year’s subscription. The free version offers unlimited VPN (virtual private network) browsing and protection from about a million known security threats, but to add the data compression and more widespread protection — roughly 3.5 million malware, phishing and spam threats — you’ll have to ante up the monthly or yearly fee. Owners of multiple Android devices only have to pay one time, which is nice. You can also get the Elite version for free by completing some advertising offers that earn credits towards the Elite price.
Again, I personally don’t buy into some of the security hype, but there’s no harm in cheap insurance. And HotSpot’s VPN service brings not only privacy and protection when surfing on a handset, but also can help get to sites or services that could be blocked on a network. Add in the data compression, which could hedge against potential data overage charges and Hotspot Shield sounds like a potent mobile combo.