What is the Anchorfree HSS VPN Adapter and How to Remove It?

SECURITY Updated on: 1 November 2018

The AnchorFree HSS VPN adapter is a virtual Network Interface Controller that comes along with Hotspot Shield, the reputable VPN provider. It helps you to better access Anchorfree’s network.

In order to efficiently connect to HSS, you have to download a few drivers for the HSS VPN adapter. You can find those on the internet relatively quickly, so there’s no problem here.

1. Now, what about the VPN itself?

Hotspot Shield is one of the best online privacy providers out there, but its primary use is to decrypt geographically blocked content. Not that its security protocols aren’t any good, but there are many leaks, and the logging policies are dubious at best.

Even its privacy policy is very inconsistent and unclear about the use of personal information and the rights of a client concerning his privacy.

Moreover, the installer package is filled with extra free software that you didn’t ask for.

These are intrusive apps that will change your homepage and search engine, for example.

It’s all done under the guise of the motto “secure and protect,” acting on the carefully-built trust one would have toward a high-quality VPN. However, these misleading tactics are hardly the modus operandi of a leading VPN.

AnchorfFree, the company behind the VPN, has long been associated and known to work with third-party advertisers, and there was even CSIRO study which showed that Hotspot Shield gathers user information that it then sells to the highest bidder.

Either way, if for any reason whatsoever, you decide that Hotspot Shield is no longer trustworthy, and you want to get rid of it, then you need to know the exact steps in doing this.

There are multiple steps included because it’s not just as simple as uninstalling a program from Control Panel.

This is how you cut off the root of the plague:

2. How to remove the AnchorFree HSS VPN Adapter

1. Uninstall the program by terminating its services

To do this, you have to open the Task Manager and search for any HSS (Hotspot Shield) associated processes.

Things like:

  • Tapinstall.exe
  • Hssinstaller.exe
  • Af_proxy_cmd_rep.exe
  • HSSCP.exe
  • Cmw_srv.exe
  • Hsswd.exe

You’ll find them easier by looking under the “Description” category for Hotspot Shield. Whatever process you see with that description, terminate it immediately.

If not removed, these malicious programs will fly under the radar, waiting for the right opportunity to bomb your overall security and the integrity of the system files. This ‘anti-aircraft’ strategy should keep you safe.

2. Uninstall the program itself and eliminate the residual entries

This is the primary method you use for uninstalling any other program.

Just go to Start, Control Panel, access the Uninstall Programs option, search for Hotspot Shield and the Hotspot Shield Toolbar, and then click on the Uninstall/Change option.

Click Yes, and there you go, just got rid of the pest that Hotspot Shield was. Or at least that’s what you would think.

Unfortunately, this VPN app is sneaky, and it infiltrates your whole system, swirling its tentacles around everything that it can find.

To burn it down completely and clean your computer of any toxic residues, there are three things you need to do:

– Search for any HSS-related files in your system and purge everything, including, but not limited to:

<$SYSDIR>\drivers\HssDrv.sys

<$SYSDIR>\drivers\taphss.sys, and

<$WINDIR>\LastGood\system32\DRIVERS\HssDrv.sys

– Look for folders associated with Hotspot Shield as well, in Program Files and the AppData folder especially, like:

<$APPDATA>\OpenCandy

<$COMMONAPPDATA>\Hotspot Shield

<$COMMONPROGRAMS>\Hotspot Shield

<$PROGRAMFILES>\Hotspot Shield
<$PROGRAMFILES>\Mozilla Firefox\extensions\[email protected]

In these two steps, make sure that your Windows Explorer file manager is set to displaying the hidden system files as well. You can’t possibly fathom how those HSS files and folders will try to elude your investigation.

– Clean the registries

Pay attention to this last step, as it will take some time. There are a lot of registry keys and entries that you must be able to track down first.

Also, tread carefully when deleting the registries; whatever you remove cannot be undone – you kill it, it stays dead. Maneuver that scalpel carelessly, and you might cut off the life cord to your entire OS in the process.

3. Remove Hotspot Shield Toolbar from your browser

Whether you’re using Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or any other internet browser, Hotspot Shield installs a toolbar with the package installer. You have to manually eliminate it to properly get rid of HSS.

For Internet Explorer:

  • From the main browser page, go to “Tools,” then “Manage Add-ons,” then access “Toolbars and extensions”
  • Search for the Hotspot Shield Toolbar, Hotspot Shield API Server, Hotspot Shield Class, and other HSS-associated entries, and then click on “Disable”
  • Then, just change the start page

For Mozilla Firefox:

  • Open the browser, go to “Tools” – “Add-ons” – “Extensions”
  • Find the same HSS-related entries and click on “disable”
  • In the end, change the start page and you’re good to go

For Google Chrome:

  • Click on the Chrome menu in the main browser page, go to “Tools” – “Extensions”
  • Gather up all the HSS entries and throw them out the window by clicking on the “Recycle Bin.”
  • Modify your start page and you’re done

4. Put the final nail in the coffin with a good antivirus

You want to make sure that there are no left-over infections and residual files or folders.

Just install one of the many antiviruses on the internet, perform a full scan of the computer, and then clean everything.

It should find everything about any HSS-related entries and delete them permanently. Just make sure to rely on a world-renowned tool, so, do your homework before choosing it!