Apple and Cloudflare Develop New Privacy-Focused Internet Protocol

Cloudflare has today announced that it has developed a new internet protocol, in collaboration with engineers from Apple and Fastly, focused on privacy (via TechCrunch).

cloudflare logo dark

The protocol, dubbed "Oblivious DNS-over-HTTPS," or "ODoH," makes it more difficult for internet service providers to know which websites users have visited.

When visiting a website, browsers use a DNS resolver to convert web addresses into machine-readable IP addresses to locate where the page is located. However, this is an unencrypted process and ISPs can see the DNS query and conclude which websites their users have visited. Internet service providers are also able to sell this information to advertisers.

Innovations such as DNS-over-HTTPS, or DoH, have added encryption to DNS queries. While this may dissuade bad actors who may wish to hijack DNS queries to point victims to malicious websites, DNS resolvers are still able to see which websites are being visited.

ODoH decouples DNS queries from individual users, so the DNS resolver cannot know which websites have been visited. This is achieved by encrypting the DNS query before passing it through a proxy server. This way, the proxy cannot see the query and the DNS resolver cannot see who originally sent it.

"What ODoH is meant to do is separate the information about who is making the query and what the query is," said Cloudflare's head of research, Nick Sullivan.

Page loading times and browsing speeds are said to be "practically indistinguishable" when using the ODoH protocol, according to Sullivan.

However, ODoH is only able to ensure privacy when the proxy and the DNS resolver are not controlled by the same entity. This means that ODoH will depend on companies offering to run proxies, otherwise the "separation of knowledge is broken."

While a few unnamed partner organizations are already running proxies, allowing early adopters to use ODoH using Cloudflare's 1.1.1.1 DNS resolver, the vast majority of users will have to wait until the technology is directly baked into browsers and operating systems.

Though it will likely first need to be certified as a standard by the Internet Engineering Task Force, considering that Apple was directly involved in developing the technology, it is not unreasonable to expect Apple to be among the first to integrate it in the future.

Top Rated Comments

chucker23n1 Avatar
18 weeks ago

SO i can use it right now by just changing my DNS to 1.1.1.1?
No. That’ll change you to DoH, if your resolver supports it. ODoH isn’t yet implemented anywhere.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
thederby Avatar
18 weeks ago

Who TF is "Fastly"?

only one of the top three CDNs on the planet.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ArPe Avatar
18 weeks ago

I use OpenDNS

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenDNS

208.67.222.222
208.67.220.220
That doesn’t protect you from your ISP’s eyes and selling your browsing data. Ali and Bob in tech support still know you’re into dwarf domination cosplay.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
locovaca Avatar
18 weeks ago

You have to trust the resolver and if you have content filtering in use that uses DNS based filtering, this is not a good thing. That said, I have found cloudflare to be very fast and secure. Since I do use content filtering and ad blocking, I use pihole with unbound and it has been great.
Yup, and now we’re running into the issue of apps and devices that ignore DNS servers offered up by your router and instead hardcode Google or others so they can defeat DNS based add blockers. This is just another attempt to keep ads working under the guise of “security.”
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Helmlein Avatar
18 weeks ago
DNS resolution is something that should be implemented for the OS, not in the browser. The browser in turn can query the OS resolver library. Therefore: thanks but no thanks. Better implement those in the OS resolver library, so ALL applications can benefit.

And businesses will know how to configure their MITM-proxies to prevent (O-)DoH or DoT anyway; this will just help the likes of BlueCoat.

H.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
chucker23n1 Avatar
18 weeks ago

DNS resolution is something that should be implemented for the OS, not in the browser. The browser in turn can query the OS resolver library. Therefore: thanks but no thanks. Better implement those in the OS resolver library, so ALL applications can benefit.
Apple will most likely implement this in the OS, so…
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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