28th January is Data Privacy Day and we at NetTrackers take privacy seriously, from when we
get your ideas, to have a security first approach to programming and finally creating the
services you want to deploy.
One of the areas we evangelize is personal privacy, the best thing you can do to keep your
search and data history private is to use to block web trackers. Blocking all trackers is close
to impossible, giants like Google, Facebook and the government invest billions of dollars to
track each of us and there’s just only that much once can do.
It can be ensured that you are not being tracked by using browser extensions like Disconnect,
uBlock origin, Ghostery, and uMatrix , they do not require special settings; they immediately
block trackers and surveillance by social networks. You can also use a VPN to throw people off
your trail, the VPN server substitutes its own IP addresses for yours so that websites cannot
track your location or link your actions to accounts (as long as you are not logged in to them).
These solutions work well, but deploying them on a wide network with multiple users is
challenging, ensuring all users follow the protocol, have no leaks and follow instructions to
the T is difficult if not impossible. We at NetTrackers use an additional service for DNS
security and privacy - pihole.
Whenever you make a request to www.website.com, your computer asks your router to
connect you to the website, your router asks a DNS like Google or OpenDNS for the IP address
of the website, and then connects you to it. When you install Pi-hole, you tell your router to
ask Pi-hole for IP addresses instead of the regular DNS. So when you make a request to
www.spam-ads.com, your router asks Pi-hole for the IP address and Pi-hole says "I'm
www.spam-ads.com!" and gives your router its own IP address. Your computer connects to the
Pi-hole instead of the real www.spam-ads.com, and Pi-hole returns an empty message. Your
computer assumes that was the message from www.spam-ads.com and so the real ad never
gets downloaded. If you ask for a non-spam site like www.nettrackers.net, your router will
ask Pi-hole, and Pi-hole will ask a real DNS (like Google or OpenDNS) for the IP address, and
then tell your router what it found, and the router will connect you to the proper server.
For comparison, normal browser ad blocking software (like uBlock origin) will load a webpage,
try to spot stuff that looks like it might try to load an ad and delete it before it does. This
isn't always foolproof, so sometimes the browser will still download the ads, and the
adblocker will have to hide them afterwards. When this happens, it's slower (since you have
to download ads you're not even going to look at), and it lets the ad company know that you
visited the page, so a little bit of your privacy is compromised. It also requires you to install
an adblocker in every piece of ad-filled software on every device you use. Sometimes that's
not possible (e.g. you can't install an adblocker on an iOS game, or a smart TV).
Pi-hole works with every program on every device on your wifi network because all that
software makes its web requests through your router, and your router gets its IP addresses
from Pi-hole. Pi-hole also helps with speed and privacy because any ad requests that sneak
past your browser's ad blocker will get sent to Pi-hole instead of an ad company.