As spotted by Bleeping Computer, the addition could offer a major security boost to potentially millions of users sick of having their privacy invaded.
How will it work? Well, the IP Protection tool will route your traffic through a proxy server owned by Google. This would help to obfuscate your IP address, making you much harder to track as you browse the internet. In the future, Google is considering directing your traffic through two proxies, which would further obscure your IP address.
That’s important because your IP address provides a unique identifier that can be tracked across the web. That allows companies and data brokers to build a profile of you based on the websites you visit, which could then be used to target and track you further. That’s bad for your privacy, and it’s something Chrome’s IP Protection will attempt to combat.
IP Protection will be opt-in at first, and will roll out in stages for a limited number of websites as Google analyses its progress and effectiveness, Google says. There’s no word yet on when it will begin testing, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re interested.
Not a privacy panacea
Google has warned that IP Protection is not a privacy cure-all, and that there could even be security implications to using its new feature. For example, if one of Google’s proxy servers gets hacked, the intruder could potentially see all traffic passing through the server and manipulate or redirect it. Routing your IP address through two proxies might help by ensuring neither server sees both your IP and the destination URL, but it probably wouldn’t be a foolproof solution.
As well as that, as Google’s proxies hide traffic origins by design, they could be abused to disguise the origins of a DDoS attack or other fraudulent activities. Google might require users to authenticate with the proxy to prevent this, or introduce rate limits to hamper DDoS misuse.
Regardless, the introduction of IP Protection is an interesting move, as much of Google’s business model relies on tracking users and serving them adverts. Given Google’s questionable history of privacy and security violations, there will likely be many users who will be skeptical of the company’s intentions here.
But if IP Protection is able to genuinely protect people’s privacy, it could go some way to improving Google’s image when it comes to safeguarding users’ private data. Let’s hope it works as intended.
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