The VPN provider told TechRadar that it'll be rolling out the advanced features to all Mac users over the next week—so, don't worry if you can't see the new functionalities just yet. ExpressVPN's website will also be updated accordingly once the rollout is 100% complete.
How ExpressVPN's new protection tools work
"We’re always excited to launch new features and give our users greater value. But amid these improvements, our commitment to your privacy is unwavering. We hope that additions like our ad blocker give you a better internet experience while allowing you to get more out of one app rather than relying on multiple services," wrote Andre Lo, Software Engineering Manager at ExpressVPN, in a blog post.
The ad-blocker will get rid of annoying and invasive ads that'd otherwise interrupt your day-to-day browsing, and filter out most display ads to stop them from loading on your browser.
Additionally, the adult-site blocker comes as an extension of existing advanced protection features. It's a great way to give parents more control over the content their children can access—and that's why Lo suggests enabling this feature on ExpressVPN’s Aircove to block explicit content on your entire home network.
These two features, parental controls and an ad-blocker, might not sound all that special. However, ExpressVPN promises to do things a bit differently from competitors by blocking the unwanted content directly on your device instead of the server. Why? Well, better privacy and security, the provider claims.
"There are other service providers performing their blocks on the server side, and we did consider this option but ultimately rejected it," explained Lo. "The associated risk is that servers could be seized by law enforcement to examine users’ activity, leaving you exposed."
ExpressVPN's speedy WireGuard-inspired protocol, Lightway, is what enables the software to perform DNS filtering on devices.
On this point, Lo said: "Lightway allows clean extensions, meaning we could add our blockers individually without much difficulty. It would be much more difficult, and possibly infeasible, to do so using the popular protocol OpenVPN, for instance."
He also explained that the blocklists used are all open source and "highly reputable" within the industry. Despite this, he promises to also vet and refine them internally. "They need to be updated frequently as undesirable domains crop up relentlessly and are also taken down quickly," he said.
The new ad and adult-site blockers are meant to be used alongside ExpressVPN's pre-existing Threat Manager system—a web tracker and malware blocker that you can turn on and off directly from the settings menu.
Head to the advanced protection settings tab to toggle on the new protections. Just bear in mind that they work only while your VPN is turned on—except on Aircove, where they work even if you're not using the VPN.
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Chiara is a multimedia journalist committed to covering stories to help promote the rights and denounce the abuses of the digital side of life—wherever cybersecurity, markets and politics tangle up. She mainly writes news, interviews and analysis on data privacy, online censorship, digital rights, cybercrime, and security software, with a special focus on VPNs, for TechRadar Pro, TechRadar and Tom’s Guide. Got a story, tip-off or something tech-interesting to say? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org