How Apple’s Private iCloud Forwarding Can Keep You Safe

If you pay for iCloud storage, then you automatically have access to the additional perks Apple combines under the name + iCloud — and one of those privileges is the iCloud Private Relay service.

If you open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad, tap your name at the top, then select icloud, you will be able to access a Private Forwarding (Beta) toggle switches that you can turn on or off. It is also under Apple ID and icloud in System Preferences on macOS. However, there isn’t a huge amount of information along with the switch that tells you what it is and how it works.

That’s what we’re going to do here, with the help of a new document Apple has published about the contents of iCloud Private Relay. When you’re done reading, you should know if this is a feature you need.

Keep your Internet activity private

Turn on iCloud Private Forwarding on iPhone.

Photo: Apple via David Nield

As you’ll see from the accompanying landscape, when you enable this feature, iCloud Private Relay “keeps your internet activity private”—and it does that in a number of ways. One way is to hide your IP address from the websites you visit: Your IP address indicates where in the world you are connected to the web, and it is one of the important pieces of information that websites and marketers use to find out who you are. We.

When iCloud Private Relay is enabled, you have two choices when it comes to IP addresses. You can continue to report your general location (closest city, more or less)—so local data like the weather forecast still shows up accurately—or you can wander more and only report your country and time zone to sites that request it.

As an additional development, the service Encrypt your data When it leaves your device, it means no one can eavesdrop on your communications. Many websites and apps already deal with this by default, but if there are gaps, iCloud Private Relay fills them in. It means that anything you type into a form inside a web browser, from searches to addresses, is kept out of prying eyes.

Finally, iCloud Private Relay also keeps your DNS (Domain Name System) queries secret—basically, the websites you’re searching for on your device. Like your IP address, this data can be used to create a profile of who you are and what you’re interested in, which can then be sold to advertisers. With iCloud Private Relay enabled, this is a lot harder for companies.

How it works

iCloud Private Relay routes your traffic through two relays.

Illustration: Apple

iCloud Private Relay implements what Apple calls a “dual-hop” architecture — there are two stops or transitions between your device and the internet. An Apple-run stop where the IP address shows up but the name of the website you’re visiting is encrypted; the second stop is run by Apple’s “third party partners” and knows the site you’re visiting but doesn’t know what your IP address is (it’s responsible for assigning you a new IP address).


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