What is ExpressVPN's new Threat Manager and what does it do?

Graphical image depicting ExpressVPN's Threat Manager blocking unwanted third-party data sharing
(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

The best VPN providers are always innovating, developing new features and technologies to make their products easier to use, and working towards keeping their users safer and more secure online. One of the most recent innovations has come from ExpressVPN in the form of its new Threat Manager.

Included in the standard ExpressVPN apps on iOS and Mac, this is just part of a growing trend in the cybersecurity industry that has seen providers of individual products (VPN or antivirus (opens in new tab), for example) begin to offer fuller suites of protection that, in time, should allow users to rely on just one subscription for all their online protection needs. 

Here, we’ll be exploring exactly what ExpressVPN’s Threat Manager is, how it works, and whether it’s a worthwhile addition to the provider’s arsenal of cybersec weaponry.

What is ExpressVPN’s Threat Manager? 

Released for ExpressVPN’s iPhone VPN and Mac VPN apps on January 26, 2022 (forthcoming on other platforms), Threat Manager is a DNS blocker that stops websites and apps from sharing your activity with certain third parties that are classed as malicious or are known to track you without consent.

That means that, for example, when you search for a new pair of running shoes with the Google app on your iPhone, you won’t end up being bombarded with running shoe adverts next time you open the Facebook app.

This kind of tech is nothing new – there have been browser extensions around for years that can do the same – but Threat Manager takes it step further. It works on a deeper level, and rather than simply stopping data sharing between sites in your browser, it prevents any and all apps on your device from doing so. 

So, whether you’re discussing a holiday with friends on Messenger, searching for a new pair of Levi’s on Lyst, or whiling away your time on TikTok, Threat Manager helps to limit what information apps share about you. 

ExpressVPN being used on an iPhone and MacBook

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

How does Threat Manager work?

Similarly to how adblockers work, ExpressVPN has compiled a ‘blocklist’ of servers, and prevents any part of your device from communicating with them. The blocklist contains third parties like advertisers and malware sites that regularly receive personal information from internet users, often without consent.

By blocking any app from communicating with these servers, Threat Manager limits the amount of third parties that can access your data, keeping you more private online.

It’s worth noting that Threat Manager is switched off by default within the ExpressVPN app, so if you’re a subscriber and want to use it, you’ll have to head to the settings menu and opt in.

Is it worth using?

While it seems like a small addition, Threat Manager is a welcome update that gives users more comprehensive and effective protection of their privacy. After all, even if you’re using the most private VPN, if you’re actively logged into any sites, your other activity can be linked to that login, traced and shared – changing your IP simply isn’t enough. 

Despite some improvements in cookie consent and data protection laws, data tracking and sharing is on the rise and is still something of a dark art which few average users understand – and even fewer take positive action against. 

Threat Manager is a quick and easy way to negate the worst of this, and at the very least users will be able to stay safer from malware and data breaches, and even clean up some of the most irritating targeted ads that plague us every day. Bringing privacy to the masses is something to be commended, and we think any ExpressVPN user should flick that switch immediately.

How to get Threat Manager

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Anyone with an ExpressVPN plan can use Threat Manager, but even without it, ExpressVPN is our highest-rated provider. With unrivalled streaming performance and top-notch privacy features, it's the perfect all-rounder. Every plan is covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee, and Tom's Guide readers can even claim 3 months FREE on the 12-month plan (opens in new tab). For more deals from ExpressVPN, take a look at our ExpressVPN promo codes (opens in new tab)

Mo is VPN Editor at Tom's Guide. Day-to-day he oversees VPN, privacy, and cybersecurity content, and also undertakes independent testing of VPN services to ensure his recommendations are accurate and up to date. When he's not getting stuck into the nitty-gritty settings of a VPN you've never heard of, you'll find him working on his Peugeot 205 GTi or watching Peep Show instead of finally putting up those shelves.