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This browser will soon protect you from even the most devious trackers

Brave browser
(Image credit: Brave)

Privacy-focused web browser Brave has unveiled improvements to its service designed to protect users from even the most sophisticated trackers.

Built upon the notion that advertisements should be optional and web browsing private, Brave is committed to allowing its users to protect their metadata, shield activity from internet service providers (ISPs) and block ad trackers.

In its latest blog post, the company sets out a new feature that mitigates against a technique used by trackers known as CNAME cloaking - a process whereby a tracking domain masquerades as a genuine subdomain of whatever site the user has landed on. 

With the rollout of Brave 1.17, to be completed by November 17, the browser will protect more effectively against this threat by cross-referencing CNAME records with canonical name records.

“If the request has a CNAME record, and the same request under the canonical domain would be blocked, then the request is blocked,” stated the firm.

Brave browser update

As explained in the blog post, one way Brave prevents trackers from monitoring its users’ activity online is by blocking domains that are known to pose a threat to user privacy.

However, this process boils down to a game of cat-and-mouse; trackers are always hunting for ways to circumvent these protections, and privacy services are always working to increase their level of sophistication.

“Some trackers use a technique called ‘CNAME cloaking’ to make their tracking code look like a ‘first-party’, more trusted resource,” explained the firm.

“Others use [the technique] to serve their code from unexpected or frequently changing origins, in combination with techniques like domain generation algorithms.”

According to Brave, the privacy community has long been aware of these techniques, but only relatively recently have trackers begun to capitalize on the fact that ad blocking extensions do not have access to CNAME information.

Served under a first-party subdomain, trackers can gain even more information about users’ browsing habits than previously possible, with privileged access to cookies and other local identifiers.

With Brave 1.17, the new CNAME uncloaking feature will be toggled on by default and, beyond safeguarding user privacy, should also deliver a small saving to network bandwidth and CPU cycles at the same time.