The 21st century is all about privacy. We’re looking to protect our electronic devices. It’s natural that we want to restrict what other people can see, whether they are enemy nations, hackers or big tech companies. One way to make web browsing on iPhone and iPad more private and secure is to use Safari. However, third-party tools can be used to protect your internet traffic. It’s difficult to stay anonymous when surfing the internet these days. However, it’s possible. These tips can help you achieve top-level privacy for your iPad or iPhone.
1. Safari Private Browsing
Safari’s Private Browsing mode allows you to search the internet in privacy. However, it is not as secure as it seems. This is only for those who want Safari to conceal what they are doing. Your Private Browsing activities will not sync with other iCloud connected devices. Safari will not remember which Private Browsing tabs were closed, nor any AutoFill data. However, Safari can build valuable profiles based on browsing patterns and your device. Your IP address, interactions with the page and the type of browser that you are using can all be viewed by Private Browsing. Long-pressing the tab icon can be used to select “Private” and “New Private Tab”.
2. Turn off location tracking
Safari offers a way to block websites from accessing your location. However, it is not found in Safari’s Settings menu. Instead, it’s in Settings –> Privacy –> Location Services –> Safari Websites. It can be set to “Never” to prevent access from your location. Or, you can ask next time or when I share if access is required.
3. Safari Security and Privacy Settings can be configured
Head to the menu at Settings –> Safari, and you’ll see a section for Privacy & Security. These preferences can be adjusted according to your requirements, however none will completely anonymize your internet experience. You can do so many things to improve your anonymity. However, you must still set these Safari preferences for your web experience. This makes it more difficult for advertisers to track your interactions with you, but not impossible. It is also possible to prevent websites from discovering that you are using Apple Pay. You can also toggle “Block Popups” in the General section. This will prevent websites from finding out if you use Apple Pay on your device. It may break many websites and make it difficult to log into accounts with correct credentials. You can block cookies using Private Browsing.
The Recommended Settings
4. Sites should be restricted from accessing camera, location, or mic information
The ability to limit the time websites can access your iOS 13 or iPadOS 13 camera, microphone, and location settings was a new feature. In Settings –> Safari, select each option in the Settings for Websites section, then choose either “Ask,” which will ask you every time a site wants access, or “Deny,” to block all access to all sites. As the main option, I recommend that you use “Ask”, then select “Deny,” for any sites that request permission.
5. Reset Safari’s Experimental Settings
While not a massive issue for most people, I’d also recommend keeping the switches in Settings –> Safari –> Advanced –> Experimental Features set to the defaults. These preferences can be altered without your knowledge and could compromise web privacy. You can quickly reset all settings if you have an iPhone or iPad that is up to date with iOS 15.4/IPadOS 15.4 or later.
6. Use iCloud Private Relay
Apple introduced iCloud Private Relay as a privacy option in iOS 15. This allows you to conceal your IP address, browsing history and other information in Safari. The feature sends traffic to two relays. It allows your internet service provider as well Apple to access your real IP address. Normally, your website visits and network provider can see information about your web traffic. These information can be used to identify you and create a history of browsing and your locations over time. iCloud Private Relay is designed to protect your privacy by ensuring that when you browse the web in Safari, no single party — not even Apple — can see both who you are and what sites you’re visiting.When Private Relay is enabled, your requests are sent through two separate, secure internet relays. Your IP address can be seen by both your internet provider and the first relay which is managed by Apple. The DNS records of your website are protected so that neither you nor the other party can view the URL. Third-party content providers operate the second relay. This generates a temporary address and decrypts the URL of the requested website. Then, it connects to you. It uses the latest internet protocols to provide a secure browsing experience that is both fast and efficient.
— AppleUnfortunately, iCloud Private Relay only works if you subscribe to an iCloud+ plan. A subscription to iCloud+ can be obtained for as low as $0.99 per month or $9.99 per year. Apple One plans include access to iCloud+ for $14.95 to $29.95 per monthly.
To turn on iCloud Private Relay, go to Settings –> [Your Name] –> iCloud –> Private Relay (Beta). Next, switch on Private Relay (Beta). After the Private Relay (Beta) switch is enabled, tap on “IP Address Location”. This will tell Safari whether to use your global IP address or just your country and/or time zone. You may encounter bugs in the service, such as incorrect regional content being displayed or additional steps required to log in. Turning the service off and on again should resolve most issues. When I searched on Google and browsed the internet, I received human verification prompts. However, they disappeared once I switched iCloud Private Relay on and off.
7. Modify your DNS servers
An IP address is the website’s actual URL. DNS servers allow your computer to convert URLs or Domain Names into an IP address. The default DNS server that your iPhone uses to translate URLs or Domain Names into website IP addresses is used by your ISP. But this can have privacy consequences. Certain DNS servers can allow you block harmful websites. However, it is very unlikely that your ISP’s DNS server allows this. Your DNS server can be changed to improve your browsing experience. 126.96.36.199 from Cloudflare and APNIC are the most popular, as well as OpenDNS and Cisco by Cisco and Google Public DNS. In my example, I use 188.8.131.52 servers because they provide excellent privacy.
Wi-Fi DNS Servers:
Change DNS Servers over a Cellular Network
Because Apple doesn’t provide direct settings, it can be more complex to update your iPhone’s DNS servers from a cellular network. Although you could make an MDM profile, it is a lot harder than it pays. There are many apps that allow you to set up pseudo VPNs which change DNS servers. Some apps even support “native iOS” DNS server changes. You can use the 184.108.40.206 App to set up a DNS tunnel and install it. For 220.127.116.11 to be used, WARP+ is not required. You don’t need to update your Wi-Fi DNS servers if you have 18.104.22.168 installed. However, it is worth noting.
8. Utilize Content Blockers
While you can mask your IP address to trackers and stop cross-site trackers (see tip 3), some trackers may still seep through. Content blockers are useful in this situation. Safari Extensions were only available for iPad and iPhone as of iOS 15/IPadOS 15. Content blockers are available from iOS 9. Most content blocks available on the App Store block both tracking scripts and advertisements. You can disallow ad blocking on many content blockers, but you won’t be able to disable tracker protection, so you can support websites that you visit.
Here are some popular content blockers
Left to right: Hush Nag Blocker (Mobiwall), AdGuard Pro.
9. Try a different search engine
Google’s Safari search tool is used by most people. It stores your user history and IP address. You can change to DuckDuckGo for more privacy. DuckDuckGo does not store your past searches. To switch, go to Settings –> Safari –> Search Engine, and choose “DuckDuckGo.”
10. A more private browser is recommended
Safari offers many privacy-centric features for iOS and iPadOS. However, third-party browsers offer more privacy. You can now make a third party browser the default on your iPhone and iPad, instead of Safari. This means that any links you click on will be opened in the browser of your choice, instead of Safari. You can also assign each website privacy grades before and after Privacy Protection is activated. The Fire button will torch all of your browsing history, cookies, and search histories. The app can also auto-clear any data when it restarts. Other privacy-focused options for iPhone and iPad are Brave Private Web Browser, Firefox Focus and Tor-compatible ones such as Onion Browser or Private TOR+ VPN Browser. Remember that iOS browsers all use WebKit as their rendering engine. Therefore, third-party browsers can be used with the same benefits. Apple is unlikely to allow developers to use other engines in iOS or iPadOS.
Here are some popular privacy browsers
You can still use the DNS servers you have changed (see tip 6). You cannot however use content blocking software (see tip 7, above) in conjunction with any other browsers. Left to right: Firefox Focus (DuckDuckGo), Cake, and Cake.
11. Utilize a Virtual Private Networks (VPN).
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are the most common way to make your browsing private. You should use it on Wi-Fi networks that may have hackers. This will hide your IP address and prevent geolocation blocking. It also makes it appear that you aren’t using VPN. However, free VPNs offer very limited protection so make sure you choose one you have the budget for and that has good privacy policies. Gadget hacks chose CyberGhost to be the top “no logs” VPN app a while back. But there are many other VPNs that are worth signing up for, including KeepSolid Unlimited VPN.
These are the Top VPNs For iPhone and iPad
CyberGhost and VPN Unlimited are from left to right. VyprVPN is in the middle. Do not miss these 12 hidden iMessage features for iPhone that you probably didn’t know about
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Cover photo, GIF, screenshots and cover image by Daniel Hipskind/Gadget Hacks