Private Internet Access (PIA) is a popular VPN solution as it is affordable and it does not log your data. The developers of this software have also released several useful tools, including MACE.
MACE is a simple and effective ad tracker blocker that can be used on any device. It uses updated lists of potential threats to help to stop tracking scripts from reaching your browser and running malicious code.
Thanks to several user requests, some VPN providers are now including this type of features in their software. We recently reviewed NordVPN's CyberSec tool, which is a very similar feature.
How Ad Tracking Scripts Work
To understand the benefits of MACE, you need to understand the basics of how ad-tracking scripts can track your Internet activity, IP address, and location.
Tracking scripts run in the background and you may never notice that they are storing or accessing cookies in your browser. When you visit a website, your computer makes a request to a DNS server. The DNS server resolves domain names, giving your browser the IP address to connect to the domain that you entered in your browser.
That's When PIA MACE Steps In
MACE stops your browser from downloading scripts by interfering with this process. When your browser requests the IP address for the tracking script, MACE gets in the way and returns a different address.
Instead of supplying the IP address for the tracking script, MACE returns “127.0.0.2”, which points to the localhost. The website loads but the tracking script
Blocking these tracking scripts can also stop some pop-up ads from loading. As these ads are often encrypted, it becomes more difficult for your browser to detect potential threats. By blocking some of these ads, you can increase the overall security of your online browsing activity.
What Are Tracking Scripts Used for?
Some companies use these tracking scripts for ad retargeting, which allows them to deliver ads as you visit other sites. For example, you are browsing HDTV televisions on the website of a popular online retailer.
After leaving the website, you decide to visit one of your favorite blogs. An ad for one of the televisions that you just viewed may appear on the website. That is called retargeting.
Tracking scripts may also be used for malicious purposes. Hackers can inject malicious code into it, which is unlikely to get detected by your antivirus browser extension.
Should You Use PIA MACE?
If you already use PIA as your VPN software, turning the MACE tool on will help to block malicious ads and stop tracking scripts from loading. However, there are a couple of details to consider before using it.
MACE may not stop all ads and scripts. It uses a list of known ad servers that have been flagged for distributing potentially harmful code. It does not scan the code or perform any additional steps. It simply returns the IP address for the localhost whenever a browser attempts a DNS request for a tracking script.
If you currently use a different VPN service, MACE may not give you enough reason to switch services. It is a useful tool, but other VPN services also offer their own form of ad blocking.
For those without a VPN or who already use PIA, MACE offers one of the lightest solutions for helping to block tracking scripts.