Brave Browser Review 2020: The Future of Secure & Private Web Browsing?

Most privacy nuts haven’t seen advertisements in years. What is all the fuss about Brave browser? Is the Brave browser really a step forward for users’ rights to privacy or simply a clever way to opt people into being slaves for the corporate marketing machine? This is something we should explore and that’s why we wrote this in-depth Brave Browser review.

The internet is an integral part of daily life in many ways. The brave browser offers users a way to browse the internet ad-free, by simply limiting your data exposure to advertisers. Algorithms or algo’s can’t identify you because tracking data is not sent to them, so it’s not worth an advertisement being rendered. This is what saves your battery life and loads pages faster. So,  what makes this approach any different from adding add ons with your regular browser? Continue reading on this Brave Browser review to find out more.

brave browser review

Is Brave browser free?

Yes, the Brave browser is free, and could also potentially line your pockets. The brave browser uses an Ethereum ERC-20 token called Basic Attention Token or BAT to pay users for browsing their ads. This is an opt-in program paying out BAT for viewing Brave Browser approved ads. The data gathered by the browser is done locally, they then present ads that are targeted specifically to you. The setup is non-intrusive and they have done a fantastic job of convincing people they are safe.

Brave browser is employing end-users to provide a service, their attention. If you don’t want to participate you don’t have to and their browser is free to use even if you don’t want to see brave approved ads.

Is Brave a Safe Browser?

No, but nothing is safe from a security point of view; it’s always an arms race between lock designers and lock breakers. This being said, if you’re after a non-gossiping browser that doesn’t give out much information about you, Brave is a good choice, if you need something plug and play.

Cookies track everything you do online, it’s how the internet was designed to work. Unfortunately, marketing budgets know how to exploit this. Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and any website can form a very robust picture of who you are. If they have a network big enough to track you around the internet.

While Brave won’t directly blow your operational security (or opsec), their third party wallet provider Uphold is happy to. With chain analysis, signing up to get paid out and withdrawing funds will expose everything. Blockchains are transparent and immutable. The KYC process will link your BAT funds to any Ethereum Wallet, Exchange or business you transfer them to.

The super uncool, privacy-violating, Brave lawyers really had no choice but to protect the vested interest of the Brave browser. However, we don’t see any problem with this as it’s a free opt-in service that does not discriminate against usage. They hire anyone and payout equally, solely based on ad viewing additionally they created a payment corridor for content consumers to reward content creators.

brave browser features

 

Does the Brave Browser use Google?

The brave browser appears to use Google in 3 ways. The first is Chromium, which is a google owned, open-source test net for Google Chrome. Brave is based on Chromium which forms the basic code of the browser.

They simply removed the google spyware, added HTTPS everywhere, blocked some tracking features, added Tor without instructions, a BAT wallet, and random backgrounds for each new unused tab.

The second is the default search engine. You can set Google as the default search engine. This, however,  is not advised. The third being, Brave browser can only utilize Chrome extensions, this allows for easier migration as Google does control the market share of internet users and it stands to reason would also have the bulk of developers creating browser apps.

Brave browsers can also use Google services indirectly if the user needs to access their Gmail, watch YouTube or any other Google Services.

All ads, including Google ads, will not be displayed, as tracking data is disabled by the Brave Shields. The Brave Shield not only blocks ads but has cookie controls, HTTPS upgrades, blocks scripts, fingerprinting prevention and these services are customizable per site or globally for every site. Some features are not available for all platforms so always do your own research.

Brave web browser download

So now, after a little introduction, you are thinking you might want to give Brave a go? Go to Brave.com and select Download. This reminds me of the old Internet Explorer and Bing joke. The only time you would ever use IE and Bing, is if you need to look up another browser after you install windows. Speaking of IE they also use Chromium for their base code.

Everyone should give the Brave browser a try. The memory or RAM utilization is impressive and does an amazing job of not stressing out older computers. However,  we would not run this on a Pentium 3 system, don’t laugh too hard, this is a legitimate concern for charities who provide computer training to children and adults.

Many people around the world can’t afford better computers and Brave browser is not for them. The unbanked are unbanked for a reason. They don’t have paperwork and will never be allowed to KYC. As such, they can never gain any financial rewards from using the one browser that could have helped them upgrade their aging computers.

How to use Brave browser

The Brave browser is intuitive and simple to use. If you can use Internet Explorer, you can use Brave. They have a simple to set up interface prompt that asks a few questions about how you wish to browse. Once completed the internet is at your fingertips in a semi-private to private way depending on your selection.

Once you get the browser up and running you’ll immediately notice a few things are different. When you open a new tab you’ll be presented with an amazing photo of something cool at least we think so. They present you with a few stats on the top left, which include; Ads and Trackers Blocked.

Those stats are the core reason to use Brave. They don’t allow certain details to be revealed about you to the sites you visit, this includes your internet history and location. This limits advertisers from directly identifying your interest likes and dislikes meaning they cannot market to you.

HTTPS upgrades also protect your data further by encrypting your session. Making it harder for your traffic to be analyzed. The last metric is your time saved, this is directly a result of not loading ads and responding to trackers. Imagine trying to get out of the office but it’s your birthday and everyone wants to wish you. This is browsing with ads.

Now imagine the day you finally resign from a job you hate, you simply walk in, give your boss your resignation and walk out. Quick, easy and really satisfying. That’s what browsing without ads is like. Ad-free browsing dramatically extends your battery life as your browser is simply not doing those tasks anymore.

There is also a clock which isn’t in 24 hours so it’s useless in our opinion. They have been trying to fix this problem for almost 2 years and have simply given up. The last thing to mention is the wallet which we mentioned above. While they also have released a Binance wallet in their Nightly version this isn’t available in the stable release so we aren’t going to comment yet.

Brave rewards ads

While we’re totally against using the Uphold wallet. The way they have chosen to monetize this project is respectable. Brave browser sells targeted marketing to advertisers. Users that opt into view ads are paid for their time in Basic Attention Token or BAT. It’s a win-win for all parties involved.

Another feature of the service is tipping the content creator for their content. This allows all publishers and creators to also benefit from your attention, even if you removed their monetary incentive to create content.

The marketing genius behind Brave and BAT is amazing. It’s like a virus, if you tip a creator that has not signed up, they are financially incentivized to sign up, and hand over KYC data to withdraw funds because free money is available and most people value money over privacy.

Is Brave browser better than Chrome?

Yes. Brave browser is better than standard Google Chrome. Google Chrome is designed as a direct marketing tool, which controls 64.45% of the market share. Chrome has built-in plugins that can be disabled. Chrome collects data about users, processes this data using it’s algo’s and delivers content directly in your line of sight as you browse the internet. Collecting billions of USD in the process, that old saying “if it’s free, you’re the product” comes to mind.

When used in this way, Chrome is slow to load pages. It becomes a processor and memory hog, which depletes battery or pushes your Power Supply Units or PSU harder than needed. Costing you time and electricity.

Brave browser vs Safari

Safari is designed by Apple Inc. The only use for Safari is downloading another browser. Granted Safari is a lot better than IE, with a total market share of 17.5%. Safari is doing quite well for themselves coming in 2nd.

Additionally, Apple will try to protect your digital rights and go to court to not hand over your data to government agencies if and where encryption is used but if compelled with a court order, they will comply.

Brave vs Firefox

The current CEO of Brave Brendan Eich was also the creator of Javascript and former CEO of Mozilla Corporation. The Mozilla Corporation created and manages Firefox. Mozilla makes its money from… You guessed it, ads. Well, sort of. Search engines pay Mozilla royalties to use the browser to gain access to users’ data. Firefox is Free and open-sourced with a development community based all over the world. It’s still owned by Mozilla, which is a for-profit company.

The Tor browser is based on Firefox for a reason, it’s highly customizable additional plugins are not built-in but available to install and use. In a fair fight with plugins, Brave has a hard time against Firefox. We don’t think the Brave browser fully utilizes Tor and lacks the necessary additions available in the Tor browser to change identities as you browse while you can still achieve this by closing all Tor sessions, windows, and tabs and opening a new Tor session, window, or tab.

Firefox controls 4.58% of the browser market share with around a quarter of a billion active monthly users, consecutively they are 20 times bigger than Brave Browser, who has 12 million active monthly users.

Brave Browser Pros and Cons

Brave browser has more pros than cons. It’s a better browser choice when it comes to privacy and tracks less, compared with standard browser installations. It comes standard with a built-in Adblocker and is faster and more efficient at browsing the internet.

On the con side, Brave browser is at Google’s mercy when it comes to extensions, as it does not have its own library of add-ons and has to follow the dictates of a third party. Third-party extensions are also not vetted by Brave individually, fortunately, the Brave browser will advise if it notices any untoward activity from the add-on. It’s Tor service works but doesn’t compare with the original Tor browser and this is simply a marketing gimmick, in our opinion.

The Brave browser import feature is useful for bookmarks and your history and that’s it. Brave cannot import your passwords. It is a pain for most end users. One could argue you shouldn’t store your passwords in your browser but no one follows that advice except people who have been hacked and learned from their mistakes, these users are few and far between.

Drawbacks

The Elephant in the room with Brave Rewards and their opt-in marketing is that you are agreeing to a service, where you are the product. This may be fine for certain people but it’s a half measure.

To cash out BAT tokens for real money you need to do KYC which defeats the point of online privacy. People need fewer logins associated with their real-world identities. Each company that has your KYC data is an additional attack vector for hackers.

Why Should You Use?

The Brave browser delivers what is promised, they are hands down best in class for power utilization and will dramatically extend your battery life. Personally we have not seen ads in years and don’t know what the fuss is about. We’re not going to list our plugins because of opsec and what not.

brave browser review

Brave Browser Review: Conclusion

Browsing privately is a responsibility, not a right. While the Brave browser is a step in the right direction. It’s just ok, it offers nothing special on the privacy front and isn’t the best tool. While Tor is better, don’t be deluded into thinking you’re safe using it either.

Browsing privately is about an extended set of protocols, not simply using a magical browser that will protect you. For starters get a VPN, think about formatting your current machine with DBAN and starting with a fresh install. There are a few privacy tutorials that can really help even really olds ones. Some steps are extreme and depend on what you’re trying to do.

Our KYC data is worth more money to us than Brave browser can offer, all it takes is one leak to get your identity stolen and be forced to waste years of your life fighting for your own identity. In this limbo period, you can’t purchase a house, get a new car, and the police might detain you thinking you’re the identity thief.

While we don’t feel the Brave browser stands out compared with the crowd, in terms of security and privacy, it is a great place for users to start. Users who know nothing about online best practices need a solid starting point and brave does provide this in spades. Unfortunately, privacy security is like a loaded gun and end-users might shoot themselves in the foot.

Brave is the best power saving browser available. We have been and are going to continue to use Brave browser when using devices that run on batteries. It’s an amazing energy saver and we recommend everyone give them a try.

The tab random background is the best feature this browser has, it slows you down to truly reflect on what you’re going to search for or which site you’re about to visit. Taking a moment to reflect and observe real beauty is a nice break from the grind of digital life.

Brave Browser Review
Overall
4.5
  • Usability
  • Extensions
  • Safety
  • Privacy

Pros

  • Very fast
  • Safe
  • Good interface
  • Strong on privacy

Cons

  • Limited extensions

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