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Google finds Apple Safari's anti-tracking feature allowed hackers to track you

(Image credit: K303 / Shutterstock.com)

Apple prides itself on focusing on the user's privacy with all of its products, including its best MacBooks. But according to Google's researchers, Apple Safari's Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) privacy mechanism was in fact leaking information.

The group of Google security engineers published a paper on Jan. 21 detailing the flaws that would have allowed hackers to view your browsing, search history and allow for cross-site tracking.

Safari's Intelligent Tracking Prevention keeps a list of every website that you interact with and modifies the information sent to each site, whereas other browsers seem to have a set list of sites that they won't share information with.

Fortunately, Google reached out to Apple in the fall of last year, and a number of the issues discussed in this paper were addressed in Safari 13.0.4 and iOS 13.3, which released in December 2019.

"We've long worked with companies across the industry to exchange information about potential vulnerabilities and protect our respective users," Google said in a statement. "Our core security research team has worked closely and collaboratively with Apple on this issue. The technical paper simply explains what our researchers discovered so others can benefit from their findings."

However, Google researchers found that "it is important to note that such fixes will not address the underlying problem." The paper states that creating a fingerprint via ITP pins and revealing the ITP list is still possible, so your search history can still be exposed.

Consider using browsers like Brave and extensions such as Ghostery, which minimize the data websites can get from you.

Rami Tabari

Rami Tabari is a Senior Writer for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline attached to the latest Souls-like challenge.