iOS 14.5 Beta Directs 'Safe Browsing' Traffic in Safari Through Apple Server Instead of Google to Protect Personal User Data

Starting with iOS and iPadOS 14.5, Apple will proxy Google's "Safe Browsing" service used in Safari through its own servers instead of relying on Google as a way to limit which personal data Google sees about users.

iOS 14 safari feature

Safari on iOS and iPadOS includes a built-in feature called "Fraudulent Website Warning." As Apple describes it, having the feature enabled will prompt Safari to warn users if they're visiting a suspected phishing website, or in other words, a website attempting to steal your data such as username, passwords, and other information.

In order to provide this feature, Apple relies on Google's "Safe Browsing," a database/blocklist of websites crawled by Google of websites that it deems to be suspected phishing or scam. In practice Google sends Safari a list of hashed prefixes of URLs that it determines to be malicious/phishing, Safari then checks the website you're trying to visit against the list from Google. Any match in hashed prefix will cause Safari to request the full URL link from Google, and by using the hashed prefix, Google never sees the website's URL you're trying to go to.

While Google doesn't know which specific URL you're trying to visit, it may collect your IP address during its interaction with Safari. Now on iOS/iPadOS 14.5, that's no longer the case. As confirmed by the Head of Engineering for WebKit, Apple will now proxy Google's Safe Browsing feature through its own servers instead of Google as a way to "limit the risk of information leak."

Screenshots posted on Reddit of incoming/outgoing connections on a device running the latest iOS 14.5 beta shows a new "proxy.safebrowsing.apple" URL, and testing by MacRumors shows the same URL alongside "safebrowsing.g.applimg.com" and "token.safebrowsing.apple" being used to proxy "Safe Browsing."

The new change in iOS and iPadOS is part of a comprehensive set of privacy-focused features for the iPhone and iPad and Apple's recent forceful push towards more stringent privacy features/rules. In addition to the change in "Safe Browsing," iOS 14.5 will also require apps to asks for user's permission before tracking them across other apps and websites.

The new requirement called "ATT" or App Tracking Transparency has caused companies such as Facebook and Twitter to voice concerns about how the new feature will impact their bottom-line, specifically when it comes to personalized advertising.

Another noteworthy feature in the upcoming update is crowdsource reporting for accidents, speed traps, and hazards within Apple Maps. Apple released the first beta to developers and public beta testers last week and says that iOS and iPadOS 14.5 will roll out to the public in the "early spring."

Related Forum: iOS 14

Top Rated Comments

robinp Avatar
42 months ago
14.5 is shaping up to be a quite impressive privacy update
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheYayAreaLiving ?️ Avatar
42 months ago
Apple will eventually leave Google behind. Google is being way too shady with the whole privacy and security.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Bazooka-joe Avatar
42 months ago
yep Apple is really driving privacy standards forward which is great assurance for their users
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ruka.snow Avatar
42 months ago
I hope they stop taking Google's money and make DuckDuckGo the default search engine. I would be delighted if Apple truly went all in on privacy, it looks like that is the plan as a way to separate them from the pack. The Apple of the next decade should be privacy focused and have very tight control over its supply chain.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
InGen Avatar
42 months ago

How does that help when i am logged into my google account?!
Well that there's your first mistake
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Abazigal Avatar
42 months ago
I hope they stop taking Google's money and make DuckDuckGo the default search engine. I would be delighted if Apple truly went all in on privacy, it looks like that is the plan as a way to separate them from the pack. The Apple of the next decade should be privacy focused and have very tight control over its supply chain.
It does make me wonder how many people will actually stick with DDG were Apple to actually make it default one fine day. Google evidently fears this possibility enough to pay Apple billions of dollars a year, but I feel like the majority would just switch back to google search out of sheer annoyance.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

Provenance Emulator

PlayStation, GameCube, Wii, and SEGA Emulator for iPhone and Apple TV Coming to App Store

Friday April 19, 2024 8:29 am PDT by
The lead developer of the multi-emulator app Provenance has told iMore that his team is working towards releasing the app on the App Store, but he did not provide a timeframe. Provenance is a frontend for many existing emulators, and it would allow iPhone and Apple TV users to emulate games released for a wide variety of classic game consoles, including the original PlayStation, GameCube, Wii,...
iPhone 15 Pro FineWoven

Apple Reportedly Stops Production of FineWoven Accessories

Sunday April 21, 2024 6:03 am PDT by
Apple has stopped production of FineWoven accessories, according to the Apple leaker and prototype collector known as "Kosutami." In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Kosutami explained that Apple has stopped production of FineWoven accessories due to its poor durability. The company may move to another non-leather material for its premium accessories in the future. Kosutami has revealed...
iOS 17 All New Features Thumb

iOS 17.5 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Sunday April 21, 2024 3:00 am PDT by
The upcoming iOS 17.5 update for the iPhone includes only a few new user-facing features, but hidden code changes reveal some additional possibilities. Below, we have recapped everything new in the iOS 17.5 and iPadOS 17.5 beta so far. Web Distribution Starting with the second beta of iOS 17.5, eligible developers are able to distribute their iOS apps to iPhone users located in the EU...
Delta Feature

Delta Game Emulator Now Available From App Store on iPhone

Wednesday April 17, 2024 9:58 am PDT by
Game emulator apps have come and gone since Apple announced App Store support for them on April 5, but now popular game emulator Delta from developer Riley Testut is available for download. Testut is known as the developer behind GBA4iOS, an open-source emulator that was available for a brief time more than a decade ago. GBA4iOS led to Delta, an emulator that has been available outside of...