I've come across this product - http://www.parallels.com/products/anchorfree-hotspot-shield/ - which seems to be some form of VPN (and tunnelling?) that protects your data whilst on unsecure public WiFi connections.
Maybe someone might be able to explain how the above product works?
Are there any other products out there, Windows (compatible with x64 OS) based (and even free Windows software recommended by reputable others), that do the same thing as AnchorFree Hotspot Shield? Perferably the software will 'kick in' when I actually connect to an unsecure WiFi - other times, while connected to my secured wireless network at home it is not in action, but running ready to be put in action.
VPNs work by encrypting all the traffic between your computer and their servers. From there they pass the traffic to the Internet.
When you use open WiFi hotspots (or any other network really) the traffic between your computer and the Internet (except secure sites) is open to view. Someone could hijack some of the information and use that to impersonate you in other sites. Encrypting the traffic makes it harder for people to do it.
Encrypting the traffic, then sending it to an end point on the other side of the world also makes it slower, unless they offer a server here in New Zealand with good connectivity.