Safe and Ad Free Browsing

Ever since my bad experience with Facebook and their other products, I have been working on ways to minimize my digital footprint. I moved over to other social media sites that have no ads and don’t ask or use your private information. With the demise of Google Plus in April (2019), I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to research and move to other products that decrease my digital footprint and at least work to safe guard my web browsing. This is a living post, per-se, that I will be maintaining with new and updated information.

Ad Free DNS

AdGuard DNS is a free Domain Name System service provided by the AdGuard company. You can use this DNS service to block advertising and trackers. It works like this: when a website sends a request to an ad network, the DNS sends back a “null” response. For example, when a web page looks up the domain name “ads.facebook.com” the DNS will not find that name. This means all networks request are never loaded — this is the most efficient way to block them. This blocking may even speed up your web browser slightly.

Besides blocking advertising, AdGuard DNS will also blocks trackers and malware phishing sites.

Default Ad-Blocking DNS

Use these servers to block ads, tracking and phishing:

  • 176.103.130.130
  • 176.103.130.131

Or use IPv6 addresses:

  • 2a00:5a60::ad1:0ff
  • 2a00:5a60::ad2:0ff

Family Protection DNS

Default + blocking adult (porn) websites + safe search:

  • 176.103.130.132
  • 176.103.130.134

Or use IPv6 addresses

  • 2a00:5a60::bad1:0ff
  • 2a00:5a60::bad2:0ff

For more information on AdGuard DNS, click here.

Web Browsers

Your web browser knows a lot about you, and tells the sites you visit a lot about you as well—if you let it. I have been testing out a number of browsers that specifically caters to those that want safer browsing experience and free of most ads.

Brave Browser

Here is one that I have been using for a while and it works pretty well, when used with the AdGuard DNS protection.

Brave is the latest unique browser to join the ever-expanding market. The open source and free browser from Brave Software Inc. has positioned itself as the browser that loads faster with better privacy protection. The firm was co-founded by Brendan Eich, the creator of JavaScript and a co-founder of Mozilla. Brave keeps data safe and provides users with the power to save or delete it. It features a built-in ad tracker and blocker. Unlike most common browsers, Brave also helps to fight phishing and malware.

Brave blocks ads automatically. Users are no longer required to search the web for a perfect ad blocker. The auto-blocking protects your device from malware and extensive tracking by advertisers. Brave is also working on a plan to replace ads that appear harmful.

Tracking ads by Brave is accurate. Users are served with the right ads because Brave does the tracking using local data. If an ad is irrelevant to the user, it is pulled down. You get the appropriate ads based on this model. A user’s data stays within the device since they have no third parties involved.

While Brave blocks third-party cookies, the first party cookies are not blocked by default. Users have the option to prevent or enable cookies on a given website.

However, Brave does not block ads displayed in search results. You will be able to see AdWords advertisements within Google’s results. This is because Ad blocking extensions don’t stymie search ads either.

Blocking of malicious ads automatically allows safe browsing. Brave does not have access to identifiable user data. The anonymity aggregated ad campaign related data is used for accounting. However, this data cannot be traced back to a user’s device.

Brave also comes with additional tactics to boost privacy while browsing. The incorporation of HTTPS everywhere allows usage of web encryption whenever available.

The fingerprinting feature bars third parties from tracking your activity. This feature can be activated in the settings tab.

Brave offers a clean and crisp interface that is intuitive to use. It has all the elements you would expect in your ideal browser. Furthermore, Brave’s individual tabs sport icons for quick identification, and hovering the cursor over a tab offers details on the page in that tab without having to click on the tab and activate it.

The browser also displays statistics about the content the browser has blocked. These statistics are very useful. Furthermore, it displays photos, the current time and shortcuts to your favorite sites. Like other websites, one would expect these features to have an effect on speed. However, this is not the case. Brave is very easy to use, with a streamlined design and the useful option to preview the content of tabs.

Brave’s load speeds emerge on top. The fast browsing is supported by Brave’s lack of thirds party ads. You, therefore, have less content to download before accessing your favorite website. However, Brave’s rendering speeds come a bit after Google Chrome and Mozilla.

Brave is set up on the Chromium platform. Chromium is an open-source system that also powers popular browsers like Google Chrome and soon Microsoft Edge. Based on the Chromium capability, you can almost use all Chrome extensions on Brave. The extensions on Chrome can be added to Brave through the Chrome Web Store.

For more information and downloads, click here.