10-Point Review: Is The Brave Browser Safe & Secure?

The Brave browser is one of the newest entries in the competitive web browser space. We’ve all become banner blind ignoring the constant barrage of advertising. But as concerns around online privacy increase, Brave is already disrupting the old advertising model to return privacy to users. But for the average user, is the Brave browser safe to use?

The Brave browser is safe to use. While initially attracting tech enthusiasts to scrutinize the open-source code, it’s now a safe and comfortable choice for average users. Brave is a complete replacement for Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge. It offers enhanced security and privacy features with the fastest browsing experience.

While there are plenty of security and ad-blocking extensions available, Brave comes with these features out-of-the-box. Using the Brave private browser personally is the best way to experience it. But if you are afraid to try new tech, this Brave browser review will give you an honest idea of what to expect with this new secure browser.

Man with smartphone wondering is the brave browser safe to use

1. Top-Notch Safety

By blocking ad tracking using public blocklists and automatically upgrading insecure connections, Brave is truly the most secure web browser available for the average consumer.

Brave automatically attempts to switch sites to HTTPS to ensure you’re communicating with websites over an encrypted connection. This security feature means that it is harder for hackers to spy on your browser’s traffic.

In my article about encryption, I noted that Google’s transparency report found that as much as 25% of websites still do not support HTTPS by default.

Quick Definition: How do you know if you’re secure? The little lock icon in front of the website address or URL means you’re using an encrypted connection to the website you’re viewing.

The S in HTTPS stands for secure. This safer implementation of the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) is responsible for protecting user privacy and security.

Want to more about URLs than most other internet users? Here’s how to read a web address in plain English.

Without that security, there is no way to ensure you’re connected to a legitimate website. For example, you may think you are on your bank website, but you may be on a fake site trying to get your bank information.

When you go to an HTTPS site in the browser bar, you know that the website is safe because the HTTPS security feature checks that site’s certificate. The certificate has to be identified and verified before Brave will consider it safe to use.

10-point review: is the brave browser safe & secure?
10-point review: is the brave browser safe & secure?

If Brave finds the site or a portion of the site is not served over a secure connection, or that the certificate is invalid, a “Not Secure” notification appears in the address bar.

Be VERY careful about using sites with an invalid HTTPS connection.

2. Stop the Trackers in their Tracks

When matched up against the other popular browsers, Brave came up clean.

By default, the web browser blocks:

  • Ads
  • Scripts
  • Trackers

You do not have to ask for it or add any plugins or extensions to get this adblocker function. They are just built into the Brave system.

Some advertisers are causing a big deal about it, though. That’s understandable, too, because they want their ads out there. With Brave blocking them as a default, the advertisers are getting blocked automatically. And they do not like it.

There is a drawback to this feature, though. On some pages, it can make your screen displays look unfinished.

That is because the spots where the ads would be are blank, so it looks like the page is not finished downloading.

This remarkable feature can also cause pages not to load completely.

If this happens, simply turn the shields off for that particular page. With Shields down, the webpage should function as designed.

3. Companion Brave Search Engine

Tracking doesn’t just occur just in the browser. The search engine you use also collects information about what you type into its search box.

Brave acquired a search engine called Tailcat in March 2021 releasing the beta version of Brave Search

Brave wants to join the market for privacy-respecting search engines alongside the popular Duck Duck Go.  Brave Search wants to provide unbiased results and rank them on relevance without invading the privacy of their active users.

Users can set Brave Search as their default search engine adjusting their default settings to prefer results from the new search.

4. Get Rewarded for Viewing Ads…If You Want

The Brave Rewards program lets you earn tokens for viewing occasional ad notifications and sponsored billboard-like images on new tabs. The ads are based on your browsing behavior. Still, the browser does not share your personal data with anyone else the way other browsers do.

10-point review: is the brave browser safe & secure?

Instead of subjecting you to various online advertising networks, Brave rewards ad viewers by distributing a cryptocurrency called Basic Attention Tokens (BAT). The BAT token can be used to buy gift cards through the TAP Network for 100s of top brands like:

  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Amazon
  • Starbucks
  • Uber
  • Hulu
  • eBay
  • Apple
  • Delta

BAT tokens can also be used to support content creators for their work. The growing list of publishers that accept donations stands at more the 65,000. Among the most popular are

  • Wikipedia
  • The Guardian
  • Vimeo
  • Washington Post
  • Wikihow
  • and even individual creators on YouTube, Twitter, and other large social media networks

Data Overhaulers is also part of the publisher’s list.

10-point review: is the brave browser safe & secure?

After installing Brave, clicking the BAT icon next to the Brave logo in the address bar will display a menu showing your rewards holding. This menu also provides an option to tip your favorite content creators. 😉

5. Truly the Fastest Browser Out There Today

By blocking all the ads, trackers, and scripts, page loading speeds are faster than other competing browsers.

Even people who live in rural areas, and complain about slow internet service, rave about how fast Brave loads on both desktop and mobile platforms. It is nice to click on a page and have it pop up right away.

With other browsers, each page that loads have to go through ad trackers, pop-ups, and flashy banners before loading, so it slows everything down.

Brave does not have those, so you go right to the page you are looking for. Immediately. With no time lost, loading video commercials or images.

Every time you open up a new page, you will see an updated report of numbers telling you how much time you have saved by using Brave.

10-point review: is the brave browser safe & secure?

For example, after about 4 months of browsing, my numbers above show that 95,651 trackers and ads were blocked saving me 3.75 GB of data (some of that was mobile data tethered to my smartphone 😬) and 1.3 hours of time. This is some actual savings.

It is a lot of time to sit and wait for your webpage to load, and after a few hours online, it adds up…a lot.

6. Compatibility

Brave is built for compatibility. While its pre-1.0 version was custom-built, the team shifted to using the more widely-used base of Chromium.

Don’t get confused. Google Chrome is a closed-source browser built upon the open-source foundation of Chromium. In fact, so is Microsoft’s newest version of Edge.

By using Chromium as a solid start, the Brave browser is available for all desktop/laptop operating systems like Windows, macOS, and Linux. The browser is also available on both Android and iOS mobile devices.

It’s also compatible with the massive library of extensions available on the Chrome Web Store. You’ll find all your current extensions work perfectly when you switch.

Man using brave browser's safe sync chain on laptop and smartphone

7. Bookmarks, History, and Stored Data Sync-ed Without Spying

When you bookmark a site, you’re sending a strong signal that the site content is highly valued. Browsers that sync your bookmarks for convenience can also mine those votes of confidence.

Even more valuable is your browsing history and open tabs. These near-real-time nuggets of data are gold to advertisers and would-be hackers. When you sync these across devices through Google, Apple, or other services, you’re that trusting Big Tech respects your privacy.

Brave synchronizes apps, bookmarks, extensions, history, settings, themes, open tabs, passwords, addresses, and phone numbers through their process of Sync Chains. Your user data is packaged and encrypted on your device using a 24-word seed phrase. This encrypted block is periodically sent to Brave’s servers. Other devices on your Sync Chain using the same seed phrase regularly pull updates.  Brave does not have access to your synchronized data at any time.

8. Built-In Access To The Tor Anonymity Network

The desktop version of the Brave browser offers a unique feature. You can open a new tab that is not only incognito/private mode but also routes traffic over the Tor anonymity network.

Our Private Window with Tor helps protect Brave users from ISPs (Internet Service Providers), guest Wi-Fi providers, and visited sites that may be watching their Internet connection or even tracking and collecting IP addresses, a device’s Internet identifier.

Ben Kero, Devops Engineer at Brave (article)

Having an inbuilt VPN directly into your browser is a great feature when needing a quick, secure connection that can’t be snooped on. I hope this feature comes to the mobile browser version.

Easy entrance onto the Tor network also provides a great introduction for new users and access to the browsing of hidden websites (ending in .onion).

This Brave Tor tab should not be considered entirely anonymous. The use of Brave on the Tor network stands out from the majority of the browsers on Tor. Instead, use the official Tor browser.

You may also want to try an onion over VPN connection.

Pro Info:

You can level up from the Tor browser by switching to alternative operating systems like Whonix or Tails. The Hated One explains Whonix at 9m43s (start point set) in this video and later in the same video at 18m17s, he goes over Tails.

9. Solid Guiding Principles from an Experienced Team

Because the founders of Brave are experienced tech entrepreneurs, you can be sure you are getting a quality browser.

In fact, founder Brenden Eich created JavaScript and used to be the head of the Mozilla Project and Corporation. His co-founder, Brian Bondy, also helped develop JavaScript as well as Python and Rust.

The two software developers realized that the advertising and tracking installed into every browser on the market make browsing unsafe.

You can read full details of Brave’s early days on this history page.

10. Downsides. Do They Outweigh The Upsides?

Even though the Brave browser is safer and much faster, it does take up more storage and memory on your device or computer.

The web browser comes pre-loaded with features that other browsers offer as plugins and extensions. Many Chrome and Firefox users say they would prefer to choose their own plugins and extensions.

Another contributing factor to the Brave browser’s size is the Brave Reward Program and Basic Attention Token (BAT). Although an opt-in feature, this cryptocurrency program is baked into the browser and consumes resources regardless of whether it is active or not.

Final Thought

10-point review: is the brave browser safe & secure?

Brave is a brave new entrant in the browser arena, battling to gain user privacy and security. It’s a safe alternative to Apple Safari and even a drop-in replacement for Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome browsers. Alongside these enhanced privacy and security features comes compatibility and a reward system that rebalances the traditional online ad model.

With this Brave browser review in hand, give this alternative a try and see just how brave you can be online.

Mike Chu

Mike is a web developer and content writer living as a digital nomad. With more than 20 years of devops experience, he brings his "programmer with people skills" approach to help explain technology to the average user. Check out his full author bio by clicking here.

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