Cloudflare and Apple say they've fixed one of the internet's biggest privacy holes

Macbook Air M1
Macbook Air M1 (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Engineers from Apple and Cloudflare say they have patched one of the biggest holes in internet privacy.

Engineers from Apple and Cloudflare claim they have patched one of the biggest holes in internet privacy, thanks to a new protocol called Oblivious DNS-over-HTTPS.

As reported by TechCrunch:

Engineers at Cloudflare and Apple say they've developed a new internet protocol that will shore up one of the biggest holes in internet privacy that many don't know even exists. Dubbed Oblivious DNS-over-HTTPS, or ODoH for short, the new protocol makes it far more difficult for internet providers to know which websites you visit.

From TechCrunch's explainer:

Every time you go to visit a website, your browser uses a DNS resolver to convert web addresses to machine-readable IP addresses to locate where a web page is located on the internet. But this process is not encrypted, meaning that every time you load a website the DNS query is sent in the clear. That means the DNS resolver — which might be your internet provider unless you've changed it — knows which websites you visit. That's not great for your privacy, especially since your internet provider can also sell your browsing history to advertisers.

The new protocol will add a layer of encryption to a DNS query before sending it through a proxy server, a third-party between a user and the website they are trying to visit. The encryption means the proxy can't see the request but will shield the query from the resolver. Cloudflare head of research Nick Sullivan said it was designed to "separate the information about who is making the query and what the query is."

Thankfully, the new protocol doesn't seem to impact website load times. A big breakthrough, it may be a while before this tech hits the mainstream, TechCrunch noting it could take months or even years before the protocol is added to browsers and operating systems. A big breakthrough nonetheless.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9