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
28 months 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)
ArPe Avatar
28 months 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: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
thederby Avatar
28 months ago

Who TF is "Fastly"?

only one of the top three CDNs on the planet.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
locovaca Avatar
28 months 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
28 months 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
28 months 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)

Popular Stories

iOS 16

iOS 16.3 Now Available for Your iPhone With These 4 New Features

Friday February 3, 2023 1:13 pm PST by
Apple released iOS 16.3 in late January following nearly six weeks of beta testing. The software update is available for the iPhone 8 and newer, and while it is a relatively minor update, it still includes a handful of new features, changes, and bug fixes. Below, we've recapped new features in iOS 16.3, including support for physical security keys as a two-factor authentication option for...
HomePod 2 White and Midnight Feature Purple Blue

Apple Explains Why HomePod Was Released Again, Wi-Fi 4 Limitation, and More

Thursday February 2, 2023 7:57 am PST by
Apple's VP of hardware engineering Matthew Costello and product marketing employee Alice Chan recently spoke with Men's Journal and TechCrunch about the new second-generation HomePod in wide-ranging interviews about the smart speaker. Apple discontinued the original full-size HomePod in March 2021 after multiple reports indicated that sales of the speaker were lackluster, but Chan told Men's ...
Apple Silicon Teal Feature

The Next Big Apple Silicon Device May Not Be a Mac or iPad

Wednesday February 1, 2023 3:57 am PST by
Apple's next device with an Apple silicon chip may not be a Mac or an iPad, but rather an advanced external display, according to recent reports. The display, which is rumored to arrive this year, is expected to sit somewhere between the $1,599 Studio Display and the $4,999 Pro Display XDR – but more exact information about the device's positioning and price point is as yet unknown. While ...
iOS 16

Apple Preparing iOS 16.3.1 Update for iPhone as Wait for iOS 16.4 Beta Continues

Thursday February 2, 2023 6:41 am PST by
Apple appears to be preparing an iOS 16.3.1 update for the iPhone, based on evidence of the software in our website's analytics logs this week. It's unclear when the update will be released, but it will likely be available at some point in February. The same logs have accurately foreshadowed the release of several previous updates, including iOS 16.0.3 and iOS 16.1.1 most recently, so they...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

Five New iOS Features Coming to Your iPhone Later This Year

Tuesday January 31, 2023 11:58 am PST by
Apple has previously announced several upcoming iOS features that are expected to be added to the iPhone this year. Some of the features could be introduced with iOS 16.4, which should enter beta testing soon, while others will arrive later in the year. Below, we have recapped five new iOS features that are expected to launch in 2023, such as an Apple Pay Later financing option for purchases ...
Apple Pay Later Quick Green Feature

Apple Pay Later Launching 'Soon'

Thursday February 2, 2023 2:10 pm PST by
The Apple Pay Later service that Apple has in the works is set to launch "soon," Apple CEO Tim Cook told CNBC ahead of today's earnings call for the first fiscal quarter of 2023. Cook said that Apple employees are beta testing the Apple Pay Later feature, which will help Apple boost services revenue. "It will be launching soon," Cook said. Apple Pay Later was first previewed at the...
webkit vs chromium feature

Google Working on Browser for iOS That Would Break Apple's App Store Rules

Saturday February 4, 2023 1:30 am PST by
Google's Chromium developers are working on an experimental web browser for iOS that would break Apple's browser engine restrictions, The Register reports. The experimental browser, which is being actively pursued by developers, uses Google's Blink engine. Yet if Google attempted to release it on the App Store, it would not pass Apple's App Review process. Apple's App Store rules dictate...