Block Ads and Trackers like it’s 2021

In 2021 it is great to see that a number of new solutions are available to protect your desktop, mobile, and smart devices against advertising and tracking. 5 years ago we briefly outlined how to protect your online privacy with net-based solutions and browser extensions, this blog entry is an update of the original online privacy article. 2021 in a nutshell: use Brave, pi-hole, updns DoH, and Tor.

How to protect against advertising and trackers in 2021?

Smartphones and Tablets

Mobile devices are responsible for a major chunk of Internet traffic but also face specific protection challenges. Mobile devices usually roam different networks (WiFis, LTE …). On the bright side, one important thing changed over the past year: the majority of browsers are available on Android and iOS – See pick the right browser below.

Protect against app tracking with filtering DoH / DoT services

Mobile app tracking pose a serious privacy threat because trackers might collect your exact location data amongst other sensitive private information (see. e.g. My Phone Was Spying on Me, so I Tracked Down the Surveillants). The easiest and most straightforward solutions against mobile app tracking is to filter trackers via DNS. You can setup your own pi-hole resolver or use a upribox for that matter. To use pi-hole, your upribox while you are not at home you have to setup VPN (upribox feature) to filter trackers. We thus recommend that you resort to always on DoH / DoT with a filtering privacy-friendly DNS resolver. DoH/DoT instead of pihole offers the following benefits:

  • You protect your DNS queries from being spied on from ISPs or WiFi providers
  • Whitelisting: With DoH services you can also exclude certain apps from anti-tracking (e.g. your browser).
  • You always have an uncensored DNS service (think privacy-friendly

Have a look at the free Usable Privacy DoH service.

Desktops and Laptops

Pick the right browser

Picking the right browser is the most important line of defense on mobile and Desktop devices. Brave and Safari come with state-of-the-art tracker protection out of the box. Mozilla Firefox offers a good alternative if completed by the Ghostery and uBlock Origin extensions.

AndroidiOSMacOSWindows / Linux
BraveBrave / SafariBrave / SafariBrave
Firefox + Ghostery, uBlockFirefox + Ghostery, uBlockFirefox + Ghostery, uBlockFirefox + Ghostery, uBlock
Recommendations for privacy protecting Browsers on mobile and Desktop devices.

Smart Devices aka. IoT devices

This final category of devices has the most limitations when it comes to protection options while they pose yet another threat to your privacy. For smart devices such as your smart TV you have to resort to network (DNS) based anti tracking measures.

network-based protection

Have a look at these two base of the breed network-based solutions:

2021 Anti Tracking Protection Summary

BrowserDoH / DoTlocal DNS
Desktop DevicesBrave / Firefox / Safarioptionalnot recommended
Mobile DevicesBrave / Firefox / Safariupdnsnot recommended
Smart Devicespi-hole / upribox
Summary of 2021 Anti Advertising and Tracker Protection for desktop, mobile, and smart devices

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