Apple's Private Relay VPN May Be not so Private Like You Thought

Apple's Private Relay VPN May Be not so Private Like You Thought

Due to a possible security weakness in iCloud Private Relay, Apple's VPN may disregard firewall regulations and transfer data back to the iPhone maker's servers.

This breach was found by Mullvad, a VPN business monitoring network connections while developing its software.

For those unaware, Private Relay operates similarly to a VPN tunnel or Tor by sending a user's encrypted network through relay servers before reaching the internet. The service is still in beta and is only available in specific locations, although it does need a paid iCloud+ membership.

Ignoring Firewall Rules

Mullvad was monitoring network connections when it discovered QUIC activity, leaving one of its workstations outside of a VPN tunnel, according to a new blog post.

Disabling Apple's Private Relay function put an end to the leaks, and the corporation even gave instructions for other customers to replicate the leak on their own. Mullvad also said in its blog post that when any firewall rule is applied to the Packet Filter (PF) system firewall on macOS machines, Private Relay (mainly) disables itself.

As a result, the business believes that the leak is simply a pulse signal demanding Apple's attention. Although it is hard to tell what information is sent to Apple's servers, the breach indicates that you may be a macOS user to your local network and ISP.

Mullvad is unaware of any way to prevent Private Relay from leaking user traffic back to Apple at this time. Still, the company recommends that users disable the feature entirely for the time being if their threat model prohibits their local network or ISP from knowing what types of devices they're currently using.

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Jessica Vieira
Jessica Vieira
Jessica Vieira is ProductReviews's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology.