Block the Meanies

There are plenty of active ad/spam/virus blockers out there. Quite a few of them are decent. I will likely even write about some of them at some point. But if there’s something I appreciate, it’s an elegant solution.

When it comes to blocking all the meanies, stopping them at the source is as smart as it gets. One way of achieving that is blocking their web addresses. I’ll explain.

Each website has an online address, called a URL. You may know this already. Those are the addresses starting with http:// or https://. Google has google.com, gmail.com and quite a few others. Amazon has amazon.com, amazon.co.uk and so on. Well, it turns out meanies have their own addresses too.

When your device (phone, computer) wants to access a URL, it has to translate it to an address it understands. We call that address an IP address, and usually looks something like 192.168.0.1. So four numbers in the range of 0 to 255 separated by dots. Your device does the translation via something called a DNS lookup.

DNS lookup is done against what we call a DNS server. Your ISP (internet service provider) provides one, Google has one, and there is a host of others. Some protect your privacy better than others. Some are faster. Some are free, others charge a fee.

But, operating systems (so Windows, MacOS, Android etc.) have a local DNS map they look at first. It is the hosts file. This is where the elegant solution comes in.

MVPS HOSTS is a project that’s been running since 1998 and is still maintained regularly in 2020. Wow! What they provide is, quite simply, a hosts file that blocks all evil address lookups. You download the file and move it to right folder. Once done, all requests to evil addresses will be automagically blocked. To be exact, they will all be sent to a dummy address where the evil data cannot be found. This is much nicer than downloading the malicious content and then blocking it.

If you appreciate the effort by the MVPS HOSTS team, consider donating to them. They deserve it.

Published by eranboudjnah

A software consultant and tech lead. Passionate about optimizing as many aspects of my life as possible, to free time for what really matters.

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