Is the Brave browser safe to use?
This question was answered on February 13, 2020. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.
If you’re like most users, you spend more time using a browser than any other program on your computer or smartphone.
You probably don’t think about what browser you’re using as the focus is on getting to a website and not what got you there.
Google’s Chrome is by far the most popular browser, but because it’s a Google product integrated with all their tracking and advertising networks, a lot of people are looking for an alternative.
A ‘Brave’ New Approach
Brave is based on the open-source Chromium browser that’s also the basis for Google’s Chrome, Opera and most recently Microsoft’s Chromium Edge browser.
Open-source means that anyone can take the source code and build whatever they’d like out of it, but it doesn’t mean that all the browsers are the same.
In the case of Brave, they chose to focus on user privacy by blocking trackers, scripts, and ads by default.
The natural by-product of blocking all this activity that usually goes unnoticed by the average user is faster load times.
Brave can also make use of the wide variety of extensions for Chromium-based browsers via the Chrome Web Store: http://bit.ly/3bI015Y
Ad and script blocking options exist for other browsers, but the user has to opt to install or turn on those features, while Brave makes them the default.
Understandably, this has ruffled some feathers across the Internet, which is currently paid for largely through display advertisements.
Chances are, you’re reading this very article on a website that doesn’t charge you because it uses ads to cover the costs.
By default, when you use the Brave browser, the areas of a website that would normally display ads appear as blank spaces. This can actually make the pages look like they haven’t finished loading at first.
In some cases, the page won’t load properly, which will require you to either choose a different browser or flip the ‘Shields Up’ setting to ‘Shields Down’ which turns off the privacy and security protection.
If everyone used Brave in its default setup, the entire economy of the ‘free’ Internet could collapse. As an alternative, Brave created its Reward system, which is essentially its own ad network that takes a different approach.
First of all, the user has to opt-in to the Brave Rewards program, which will start displaying ‘privacy-respected ads’ based on browsing behavior, which is stored only on your device.
You’ll also accumulate rewards that you can potentially ‘spend’ on websites that you want to support through the network (http://bit.ly/2vxDJDi).
It’s an ambitious attempt to disrupt the status quo in online advertising.
Is It Safe?
There’s nothing to suggest that anything nefarious is going on, so there’s no reason you should be concerned about downloading it and giving it a try.
If you decide to use Brave to eliminate tracking, make sure you choose a default search engine that also doesn’t use tracking, such as StartPage or DuckDuckGo instead of Google.
About the author
Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on February 13, 2020