Safari update delivers ‘significant improvement for privacy’

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Nicole Lienemann)
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Apple has rolled out a significant update to its Safari web browser, reinforcing privacy facilities in a bid to combat cross-site tracking and outstrip rival offerings.

Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), which in previous versions gave users the option to prevent advertisers monitoring browsing activity, will now block all third-party cookies by default.

The update also contains measures to prevent websites using login credentials to fingerprint user activity and to disable a variety of cyberattack known as cross-site request forgery.

The new features are live in Safari for macOS 10.15.4 and iOS/iPadOS 13.4.

Private web browsing

In January, Google announced its popular Chrome web browser is also phasing out third-party cookies (opens in new tab). However, the feature is currently only available in experimental builds and won’t appear in stable versions until 2022, placing Safari streets ahead.

In a blog post announcing the update, Apple WebKit Security Engineer John Wilander celebrated the company's zero-tolerance policy with respect to cross-site tracking.

“This is a significant improvement for privacy since it removes any sense of exceptions or ‘a little bit of cross-site tracking is allowed’,” he said.

“Safari continues to pave the way for privacy on the web, this time as the first mainstream browser to fully block third-party cookies by default. As far as we know, only the Tor Browser has featured full third-party cookie blocking before Safari.”

Apple hopes the update has paved the way for other browser providers to introduce equivalent pro-privacy measures.

“We will report on our experiences of full third-party cookie blocking to the privacy groups in W3C to help other browsers take the leap,” added Wilander.

Via The Verge (opens in new tab)

Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.