Apple plans on enhancing its privacy features with the upcoming update to iOS version 14.5, protecting users' IP addresses even further.
The Planned Update
With Apple's upcoming update to iOS 14.5, the tech giant plans to route all browser requests through their own proxy servers to check for malicious content. The reason for this is that Apple wants to prevent users' IP addresses from leaking to Google.
The change affects the Safari browser feature called "Fraudulent Website Warning," that according to The Hacker News, "alerts users about dangerous websites that have been reported as deceptive, malicious, or harmful."
Prior to this change, Apple tapped into the Google Safe Browsing database to check for millions of websites known to contain malicious content. For China users, the database is Tencent Safe Browsing, and both of these vast storehouses contain information about fraudulent or phishing websites.
How it works is when a user enters a URL or clicks a link, Safari compares that link to the list to see if there is any match. If there is, it displays a warning of malicious content and fraud so the user can avoid it.
While using the above-mentioned resources, although the URL is kept private, the users' IP address was leaked to Google. Apple intends to patch this privacy vulnerability by routing the traffic through their own proxy servers, thus masking the user's IP address and protecting their privacy. In effect, all requests will appear to be coming from the exact same IP address (Apple's proxy server address) to keep everyone safe.
The Hacker News said that "'In the new iOS beta, Safari does indeed proxy the service via Apple servers to limit the risk of information leak,' said Maciej Stachowiak, head of WebKit engineering at Apple, last week in a tweet."
Other Privacy Measures
Privacy is a big issue these days, and Apple takes it very seriously. Along with this new proxy service to protect IPs, Apple now requires all app developers to openly disclose their data collection practices in the App Store using "privacy nutrition labels ."
The Hacker News explains "In addition, iOS 14.5 will also require apps to ask for users' permission before tracking them across other apps and websites using the device's advertising identifier as part of a new framework dubbed App Tracking Transparency."
iOS 14.5 is still in BETA but is expected to be released to the public sometime this spring.
What is iOS?
iOS is Apple's mobile operating system for iPhones of all generations. It is explicitly designed to work on iPhone hardware, and it is tightly integrated with the specific components.
Apple designs all its software to work in tangent with its hardware technology. This method works very well in making their devices more secure with better control over privacy. Unlike other operating systems, Apple keeps a tight leash on developer apps allowed in the App Store.
Privacy and security are two of Apple's main priorities within their operating system, and iOS includes dozens of features to keep users safe even if they aren't aware of how it works behind the scenes.
iOS was first released in 2007 with the first-generation iPhone. After many upgrades and subsequent generations, iOS is in its fourteenth year, and the new 14.5 release will be coming out soon.
Tips to Keep Your iPhone Safe
The key to keeping your iPhone private and secure is keeping it updated with the latest version of iOS. Apple is very proactive about releasing updates and security patches, and to ensure your operating system is the safest it can be, turn on automatic updates.