Apple is attracting scrutiny for its practice of checking if the websites you’re visiting are fraudulent and malware-infested after Chinese internet conglomerate Tencent was found listed as a safe browsing provider, The Next Web reports.
The Safari feature, dubbed “Fraudulent Website Warning” in iOS and macOS, is meant to enhance online security by cross-referencing URLs against an external blacklist service provided by safe browsing providers such as Google and Tencent.
“This feature appears to be ‘on’ by default in iOS Safari, meaning that millions of users could potentially be affected,” said John Hopkins cryptography professor Matthew Green.
But for this to work, browser makers, including Apple and Mozilla, “send information calculated from the website address to Safe Browsing providers to check if the website is fraudulent,” aside from potentially logging your your IP address.
Google and Tencent are some of the major safe browsing providers, and Google’s offering has been embraced by most modern browsers. Microsoft, likewise, has a similar cloud-based anti-phishing and anti-malware tool called SmartScreen built into most of its products such as Windows, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, and Outlook.