What’s Wrong With Adware?
Advertisements pop up everywhere online, in the middle of games and videos or more subtle banner adverts. Legitimate adverts are normally used to subsidize income – if for instance, the developer is offering the content for free.
The major issue that I have with adverts, other than them being a total waste of time is the fact that marketers gather a lot of data on you to maximize profit. For marketers to reach the right people with their adverts, they harvest a lot of private information. This information is then used to target you with ads that match your hobbies, habits and physical location.
There are other issues with Adware, other than the obvious invasion on your privacy. Adware can also go rogue and be used to spread malware. This can happen even if you don’t click on an advert. Making an ad blocker a must have for any internet user.
To protect your device, save time and also secure your personal information – ad blockers can be installed. Adware and trackers clutter up your online space and slow down your browsing experience (just look at the growth of ad-blocking).
Spyware & Adware Effect Performance
Spyware can be used to track how you interact with your device. For example, it logs your keystrokes, which means spyware can be used to harvest confidential information. Often spyware makes its way onto your device via freeware – or adverts, which is another great reason to install an ad blocker.
Adware and spyware are hungry on resources and require additional bandwidth to run. Which means when there is adware running, it uses up your bandwidth, which is particularly annoying when using the internet on a mobile device, when bandwidth usage is often restricted.
Types of Ad Blockers
There are four main types of ad blockers to choose from, depending on your preferences. You can even combine a few ad blockers to ensure that your privacy is kept intact online. The four main types of ad blockers are:-
- Blocking Router
- Web Browsers
- Browser Extensions
A VPN can be used as an ad blocker if your VPN provider has a built-in ad blocker. A VPN is useful for protecting your digital footprint as you surf the web. Meaning marketers won’t be able to track your activities and advertise to you. A VPN also comes with many benefits, such as unblocking geo-restricted content and protecting your identity.
2. Blocking Router
Servers that contain adware and tracking from marketers can be blocked with a dedicated blocking router. The blocking router will check the DNS from the site that you are visiting and if they are suspected to have adware, then their requests will be stopped by your blocking router. The blocking router checks against the major directories of dangerous DNS.
A lot of browsers come with a built-in ad blocker, so you don’t need to do anything to prevent ads in this case. However, the protection offered by these built-in ad blockers is limited, so we’d advise investing in one of the other 3 options in addition to browser’s built-in ad blocker.
4. Browser Extensions
Many third-party extensions can be obtained for free; however, we’d suggest investing in a trusted browser extension, due to the fact that an unscrupulous app could do more harm than good. You can find many browser extensions that can be downloaded and added to your toolbar.
Browser Extensions are handy as they sit right in your navigation toolbar and can be customized to your requirements. For example, you can whitelist sites and disable the ad blocker if the site requires pop-ups to function.
How Do Ad Blockers Work?
The majority of ad blockers work by checking various lists of dangerous DNS servers. Therefore the ability of the Ad Blocker depends heavily on the lists that they check. Some lists used by AdBlocker include:-
EasyPrivacy List, Malware Domains list, AdServer List and Advanced Tracking List.
When looking for an Ad Blocker, it is important to obtain one from a reputable source. Ad blockers can improve your browsing experience and protect you from tracking and malicious adware. We’ve done the legwork for you and listed 15 of the best ad blockers for 2019.
Top 15 Ad Blockers of 2019
#1 | CyberSec
NordVPN is one of the best VPN providers in the world and has an additional security feature called “CyberSec” that works similar to a blocking router. CyberSec checks their list of malicious sites and blocks access from these sites. CyberSec offers protection even if your device has been infected with malware, as it will block dangerous requests. We put NordVPN up there with the best VPNs in the world, and for good reason. Their features are great and they are very cost effective.
#2 | AdBlock
I’ve used Adblock for years, as it’s a great free browser extension (that is funded on a donation basis) that does everything that I’d expect an Adblocker to do. Aptly named, AdBlock blocks all adverts on websites, even those on Youtube. Blocking Youtube adverts is a great bonus, as not many other ad blockers provide that feature. Youtube now charge for their ad-free version, but you can get the ad-free version without paying a cent, bundled with AdBlock. It’s easy to pause and resume AdBlock as and when required, directly from your navigation bar. You can also whitelist websites or ads that you don’t mind seeing.
#3 | uBlock Origin
Built with performance and security in mind, uBlock doesn’t slow down your browsing experience, as some other ad blockers can. uBlock is a lightweight browser extension the basically filters out malicious sites by using some of the better maintained malicious server lists around. You can also create your own filter lists in uBlock. Make sure to choose uBlock Origin and not just uBlock when searching for this browser extension.
#4 | CleanWeb
Another ad blocker offered by a VPN provider is CleanWeb by Surfshark. This feature comes as part of your VPN subscription service; however, you’ll need to enable it. Similar to CyberSec, CleanWeb blocks requests from sites that are known to be malicious. Offering a high level of security at rock bottom prices, CleanWeb is a fantastic feature provided by Surfshark.
#5 | uMatrix
uMatrix is a browser extension that is available for Firefox and Chrome. uMatrix also goes by the name Micro Matrix. uMatrix is a feature rich ad blocker normally used by the more tech-savvy surfer. Designed to be able to make your online experience safer by using a powerful customizable firewall.
#6 | Firefox
Another browser-based ad blocker is delivered as part of the package with Mozilla Firefox. Offering a high level of protection and customization for a built-in browser ad blocker. You can whitelist sites directly from the nav bar, and there are some add-ons available to enhance your experience. Firefox offers one of the best browser-based ad blockers.
#7 | Opera
An advanced browser-based ad blocker and VPN comes as standard with Opera. Not a common choice for a browser, but a good one if you are interested in their focus on protecting the user’s privacy. Opera also stops tracking cookies, which offers an additional layer of privacy. The only downside with Opera is that their ad blocker is limited; however, it does offer a high level of cybersecurity for free.
#8 | CyberGhost
If you are looking for an ad blocker that is focused on security, rather than simply blocking all adverts, CyberGhost is a good option. Their VPN comes with a built-in ad blocker that will stop dangerous ads from appearing. Ads that they deem as safe will still appear.
#9 | R.O.B.E.R.T.
R.O.B.E.R.T. is a VPN based ad blocking feature available from Windscribe. R.O.B.E.R.T. checks that sites are not malicious and will block all ads, malware, and trackers. What is great about R.O.B.E.R.T. is that it’s available on both the free (but limited to 10GB per month) and paid VPN packages from Windscribe. There are also four different settings that you can use to individualize your ad blocking service.
#10 | Google Chrome
Google Chrome is the most popular web browser with the lions share of the browser space. 62.4% of web browsers are Google Chrome. Chrome has some built-in browser protection that can be enhanced by third-party applications. If you visit your browser and paste chrome://settings/ then you’ll be able to configure your ad blocker settings.
You can also enable a “Do Not Track” feature. Bear in mind that Chrome does monitor your activity, so it can’t be relied on as your primary ad blocker. Additionally, Google pays to have their adverts whitelisted, so they are not necessarily the best option overall.
NEWSFLASH: Google has recently announced that it is planning on making changes to how their browser functions. Meaning that many add blocking extensions might be derailed by the changes.
#11 | AdLock
AdLock has some advanced ad blocking features not found with other ad blockers. AdLock is a piece of ad blocking software that you can install directly onto your device. For this reason, it offers protection when you are using other apps like Skype or WhatsApp. You can get a 14-day free trial of AdLock to see if it suits you. You can only install Adblock on one device per subscription and it’s currently not available on iOS.
#12 | Microsoft Edge
Opera and Microsoft are similar in the fact that they both offer decent ad blocking and security as part of their browser extension. But neither of them are particularly popular browsers. One thing that is not so good though, is that you can’t change your preferences, which can affect the performance of sites that require the popup function to work.
#13 | Ghostery
Available as a browser extension for just about every browser, Ghostery is a free ad blocker. It is important to note that you’ll need to opt out of Ghostery sharing your data with third party agencies. You can customize your experience, whitelist and unblock websites, which is often required to use websites.
# 14 | AdBlocker Ultimate
AdBlocker Ultimate is a browser extension, available on Safari, Opera, Yandex, Chrome, Firefox, and IE. Unlike other ad blockers, AdBlocker Ultimate doesn’t accept payments from third parties to whitelist their site. Therefore there is no whitelist feature, however, you can enable ads on trusted sites.
#15 | AdBlock Plus
AdBlock is often deemed as a scam by many tech-savvy individuals because they allow some adverts to be displayed and they split the revenue with advertisers. AdBlock Plus is a free browser-based ad blocker available on Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. With AdBlock, you have the ability to customize your experience by unblocking sites to allow them to function.
PRO TIP: In 2017 there was a fake AdBlock Plus added to the app store and it infected many devices.
Ad Blocker Scams to Watch Out For
There are some rogue ad blockers out there, pretending to be trustworthy apps. Make sure that you are downloading the official app when you have decided what one is best for you. Often hackers will create apps that look a lot like the real ad blocker to install malware on your device.
There is a lot to choose from when looking for an ad blocker and you can decide to double up with some (reputable) free and paid options. We like the ad blockers that are bundled with a secure VPN, however, some of the browser extensions are very user-friendly. The free AdBlock browser extensions are very user-friendly.