Apple puts additional walls between your browsing data and Google on iOS 14.5

The company will redirect Google's Safe Browsing service through its own servers.

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Igor Bonifacic
February 11th, 2021
In this article: Apple, ios 14.5, iOS 14, Safari, internet, web, gear
London, UK - July 31, 2018: The buttons of the Apple internet browser app Safari, surrounded by Firefox, Firefox Focus, News and other apps on the screen of an iPhone.
stockcam via Getty Images

Apple’s Fraudulent Website Warning feature has long relied on Google’s Safe Browsing database to protect Safari users from phishing scams, but starting with iOS 14.5, Apple will proxy the service through its own servers to limit the amount of information Google can obtain from you. As MacRumors explains, the database provides Safari with a list of suspected phishing and malware websites. Each time you visit a webpage, Safari checks the URL against the list from Google. When it detects a match, it warns you that you’re about to put your computer at risk. 

Like Chrome and Firefox, Safari utilizes Google’s Safe Browsing Update API, which encrypts the full URL using a 32-bit hash prefix. In that way, Google never knows the exact website you tried to visit. However, it can still collect information like your IP address. By proxying the service through its servers, Apple can “limit the risk of information leak.”

The change is just one of a handful of privacy-oriented updates coming to iOS 14.5. The other significant one is Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature, which will require apps to ask you for your permission before they can track you across other apps and websites. Companies like Facebook have come out against the change, and gone so far as to prepare their own notifications before the update is widely available.

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