This freeware program promises to encrypt all your Internet connections, but since most public wi-fi access points in the U.S. are open, it's a bit hard to gauge Hotspot Shield's effectiveness. However, the connection itself is a bit wonky.
Once the program is installed, it creates an HTML link on your desktop. Double-clicking on it will open the application in your Web browser, and you'll be taken to a page detailing your Connection Status, IP Address, Server Address, Bytes sent and received, and the duration of the connection. Hotspot Shield is ad supported, so you'll get a big banner ad that lives at the top of every Web page, too. Closing the tab with the app's control panel doesn't disconnect the shield, though: for that, or to reload the control panel, you have to go through the green shield icon that gets loaded into your system tray. Also, there's a 5 GB transfer limit.
Overall, we can't give Hotspot Shield a strong recommendation, but as a last resort it might be worth trying out.