April 22, 2023
Safari is the built-in browser for Apple’s devices, including the iPhone, Macbooks, iPads, and Apple Watches. Apple made quite a fuss when they announced that user privacy is their most serious concern. Even the FBI could not make them yield when it comes to compromising user privacy and safety. In fact, Apple devices do not let third-party apps track their users’ data without explicit consent. In short, Apple is damn serious about user privacy. So, how safe is Safari when it comes to privacy?
In many ways, Safari is the best privacy browser out there. In this article, we will look at the different privacy features offered by Safari and pit those features against its competitors. Let’s see who wins!
Apple claims that Safari has state-of-the-art features to protect the privacy of its users. Among a wide array of features, the major ones are Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), Smart Search Field, Private Browsing Mode, Passwords and Syncing, and Integration with Apple Pay. Let’s have a look at the details:
This is one of Apple’s flagship privacy features. Cross-site tracking is one of the key methods through which many websites and applications collect user data and later use that data for profit. However, not everyone is okay with it, and Safari has the perfect mechanism to prevent that.
Safari considers this tracking as pervasive. Certain websites have hundreds of trackers on a single page. However, simply blocking all of it may hamper the user’s experience, as most of the trackers use web technology, which is also responsible for the proper operation of websites. For example, blocking all trackers may result in not being able to save sign-in information or saving the items in a shopping cart.
Apple’s ITP addresses this issue and only prevents tracking that does not affect the functionality of the website you are visiting. It works by identifying the domains used to track the user data and then purging the tracking information that attempts to store on the device. The AI is very advanced and doesn’t share the user’s browsing history with Apple.
No matter what website you are visiting, ITP works efficiently. It even takes care of the most complicated types of tracking. For example, social widgets may track your data even if you don’t click on them. Safari, with the help of ITP, blocks such tracking by default. You will have to give the website you are visiting permission to track your data while using Safari.
Your data may still get tracked even if you are not visiting websites but simply using search engines. You may not want third parties to know what you are searching for, so your privacy depends on keeping search engine tracking in check. Safari’s Smart Search Field prevents those search engines from getting your precise location data or cookies along with the search information. It heavily limits the amount of information search engines can get from you.
While Safari’s private browsing mode does not actually make you ‘invisible’ to others, it provides a substantial layer of protection if you want to stay anonymous. As a matter of fact, no browser has such a private mode that is ‘100 percent private.’
Here are the protective measures offered by the private browsing mode in Safari:
- Privacy from the other users of the same device, as your browsing history won’t be recorded
- Privacy from websites tracking your browsing across multiple sessions
- No autofill Information
- Other devices won’t be able to access your open tabs
- No recent search records
- No items in the downloads list (files will remain on your device)
- No cookie changes
- No cookies and tracking information from plugins
- Protection from websites modifying the information stored on your device
Security and privacy are important, but they should be convenient as well. If your information is synced across your different devices, it saves time. Many browsers come with this feature, and so does Safari. However, Safari has a unique feature compared to its competitors. Instead of browser-level sign-in, Safari allows you to sync passwords across devices using the iCloud Keychain.
The iCloud Keychain stores your usernames, passwords, and credit card information on your trusted devices and updates them. As iCloud Keychain is end-to-end encrypted, even Apple won’t be able to read the stored passwords.
iCloud Keychain also helps you create and manage passwords. You can automatically generate, sync, and input strong passwords for applications and websites. These generated passwords are saved in a special Password AutoFill Keychain.
Last but not least, you can also enjoy one-tap sign-in if you do not prefer single sign-in systems.
To make payments for purchasing products from e-commerce platforms or paying subscription fees for digital products, Apple Pay is a great option when it comes to security. Safari is integrated with Apple Pay, allowing you to authorize payments using Face ID or Touch ID. It has a plethora of benefits.
With Apple Pay, unauthorized payments can be prevented easily. No one can have access to your Face ID or Touch ID. On top of that, when you make purchases with Apple Pay, only a unique transaction security code and a device-specific number are sent to merchants instead of your full credit card information.
This means no fishy merchant can get hold of your card information. Apple Pay doesn’t store transaction information which can later be tied back to the user. It heavily limits the amount of information data companies can get from your transactions.
Like other browsers, Safari has many browser extensions to make life easier. However, in many cases, other traditional browsers allow extensions to access information without letting the user know. Safari is a different breed when it comes to this.
Safari extensions are not invasive, and the browser lets you know what information the extensions can access. There are even specific Safari extensions that help you prevent calls for tracking. Content Blocker extensions, for example, allow you to block unwanted content and tracking. These extensions are API enabled and do a tremendous job of keeping your privacy secure.
Some Safari extensions also support Private Browsing and prevent storing data locally.
Here’s a detailed guide on how to use different privacy and security settings offered by Safari,
You can prevent cross-site tracking on all devices that support Safari.
Being able to hide your IP address is one of the best things about Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP).
To prevent trackers from accessing your IP address, follow these steps:
You need a Private Relay subscription to hide your IP address from websites and trackers both. Here are the steps you need to follow after getting the subscription.
Safari offers a very convenient private browsing system. Here’s how you can use it for one-time private browsing:
Some users prefer to browse privately all the time; here’s the process:
There’s no direct way to do this on iOS and iPad OS, but you can try blocking all cookies from tracking you. Here’s how to do it:
Once you are done with private browsing, go back to normal browsing with your cookies and keywords saved. Here’s how to turn off private browsing:
Some Ads try to invade the users’ privacy. With Safari, you can filter them out. Here’s how you can do this:
In case you visit a fraudulent website, Safari can send you a warning and help you not choose to visit the website any further. Here’s how you can do it:
The strongest point of Safari is, Apple and its operating systems offer some additional security for its users, which can not be seen in other cross-platform browsers. Cross-platform browsers are often at the mercy of the operating system they run on to ensure privacy. That’s why Safari is the best privacy browser for traditional browsers.
Chrome, in particular, may give you a different level of privacy than Safari does. Google tracks your browsing history across its different services and websites, and Incognito mode can’t help. While Google doesn’t operate other browsers like Firefox, none comes with additional safety and security features like Safari.
Some browsers, like Brave, have additional privacy and security solutions like Shields. However, these browsers are relatively new and do not have the variety of extensions and plug-ins that you may need to improve your browsing experience.
So overall, Safari is a great option regarding security and privacy and enjoying your browsing experience to the fullest!
Is Safari or Chrome Better for Privacy?
Due to Apple’s policy to protect its user’s data, Safari provides better security and privacy than Google Chrome.
Can Hackers Hack Through Safari?
It is possible for hackers to hack through Safari in certain situations, but it’s not dependent on the browser itself. Your own activity while using the browser is the more important factor here. You should stay cautious and avoid visiting shady websites or clicking on suspicious links.
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