Today we’re releasing an exciting new feature that makes it easier for ProtonVPN users with a Plus or Visionary plan to keep your devices secure and your browsing private.
NetShield is now available on our Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows apps and is in beta on our Linux command line tool. It blocks malware, ads, and online trackers before they even load. This helps keep your device safe and improves your browsing speed.
How Adblocker (NetShield) protects you
When you turn NetShield on, it offers you two levels of protection:
- The first level prevents your browser from loading resources from domains that host malware, spyware, or other malicious software. Malware protection is on by default.
- The second level blocks ads and the online trackers that adtech companies use to target you in addition to malware.
If you want to use NetShield to block ads and have a faster and more private browsing experience, upgrade to a ProtonVPN Plus or Visionary plan.Upgrade
When you enable NetShield, any time you try to go to a website, the ProtonVPN app will check that website’s address against a massive database of sites known to host malware, spyware, or any other malicious software. If it finds the domain of the website you are trying to visit or any of its components (scripts, images, etc.) on one of these lists, NetShield will automatically block it from loading.
If you enable ad blocking in NetShield, not only will it protect you from malware, but it will also block the annoying ads that clutter your screen. And unlike most popular ad blockers that only work in your browser, NetShield’s ad and tracker blocking works for the entire device. In addition to being annoying, these ads also eat up data and slow down your browsing experience.
With NetShield, you can enjoy a faster, ad-free internet and reduce your data usage.
How Adblocker (NetShield) works
To visit a website, you need to type in or click on a URL to get to the specific webpage you want. However, most people don’t realize there is a step between entering the URL and arriving at your desired webpage. That extra step involves making a domain name system (DNS) request.
Website URLs are created to be memorable for humans (e.g., www.protonvpn.com), but they don’t mean much to computers. They prefer IP addresses, (e.g., the IP address for ProtonVPN’s website is 126.96.36.199). The DNS is the system that translates a human-friendly URL to a machine-friendly IP address. When you type in a URL and hit enter, your browser automatically tries to match it to the correct IP address by sending out a DNS request.
To prevent DNS leaks that could let attackers track your online browsing, ProtonVPN encrypts all DNS requests in the VPN tunnel and handles them with a dedicated DNS server.
If you enable NetShield, when your device makes a DNS request, the DNS resolver on ProtonVPN’s server runs a quick check against databases of web domains known to host malware, trackers, spyware, and any malicious software that could compromise your device’s security. NetShield checks not only the website’s domain, but also all additional domains for the scripts, images, and any other resources associated with that webpage.
If NetShield finds a match between your DNS request and this list, it stops the DNS request. This prevents you from loading the corresponding IP address and resource.
If you think a website or online resource is being blocked in error, you can turn NetShield off to access it.
The system works the same for ad and tracker blocking, only NetShield checks your DNS request against a database of known advertising agencies and online trackers. These lists are continuously updated so they will block new ads and trackers.
ProtonVPN does not keep any logs of your DNS requests, so none of this data can be shared with any third parties.
Protect yourself with Adblocker (NetShield)
You can protect your browsing with NetShield today. You will need to have the latest version of the ProtonVPN app to use NetShield to block ads and trackers. (You can check for updates in the Settings or About section of the app.)
NetShield is part of our effort to make safe online browsing easier and faster. Let us know what you think of NetShield on on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, Linkedin, and Mastodon. And thank you to the ProtonVPN community. Without your support, advancements like NetShield would be impossible.