Brave is a Free, Open-source Browser that Takes Your Privacy Seriously.

When you’re using your computer to browse decentralized apps (dApps) and crypto exchanges, you want to make sure security is top-notch. But other web browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox are slow, use lots of memory and suffer from a lack of security.

Brave Browser has a native ad-blocking feature that ensures pages load faster and aren’t filled to the brim with pop-ups and malware. Additionally, it gives you the option to turn on advertisements, paying you in cryptocurrency for viewing them.  

Combined with an appropriate virtual private network (VPN) like ExpressVPN, you can enhance the safety, security, and speed of your private browsing experience.  Brave + VPN is a powerful combo that can protect your data and security, especially important for any crypto or financial transactions. But is it the best browser?

 

Brave Browser’s Security Features

Brave Browser was co-founded by Brendan Eich, a co-founder of Mozilla Firefox and creator of Javascript, and Brian Bondy, from Khan Academy and Mozilla. The first version of the browser was only released in 2019, which is why it hasn’t yet attained the same name recognition as Safari, Firefox, Google Chrome, and Microsoft Edge. It’s built upon the open-source Chromium code, which means its realiable and fast, but unlike other Chromium browsers (Chrome, Edge and Opera), it has been built with a privacy focus.

You can also choose to use a search engine that doesn’t track your searches, such as the Brave search engine or Duckduckgo.

Setting up Brave Browser is also very easy because you can import your Google Chrome or Firefox settings and data. You’ll still have all of your bookmarks and settings, without any hassle. Most other web browsers, such as Apple’s Safari, Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, and Opera, also allow you to export bookmarks which can be imported into Brave. You can also install Google Chrome extensions, including the MetaMask wallet. These extensions are easy to access by clicking on a puzzle piece icon on the top right-hand side of the browser. 

You can also choose to use a search engine that doesn’t track your search history, such as the Brave Search engine or Duckduckgo. Duckduckgo is more established and fully featured, but Brave Search looks promising so far. Of course, it’s fully anonymous and private. They clearly state this, “We don’t track you, your searches, or your clicks. Ever.” There are ads in Brave Search but the ads are privacy compliant and you can also opt out of them by upgrading to Brave Search Premium, if you’d like. Eventually, they plan to expand the Brave Ads ecosystem to include search ads that reward users for viewing them. But for now, Brave Search ads are not yet eligible for Brave Rewards.

 

Incentivizing Users to View Safe Advertisements

Near the end of 2019, more than 8.7 million people were using the Brave Browser monthly. Rather than getting rid of ads altogether, however, Brave lets users decide if they want to view ads, and rewards them for it. 

Normally, information for advertisements is either embedded within the webpage itself or comes from a separate source online. Ad Blockers detect and block these ads from appearing. Clicking on these ads, even accidentally, could expose your private information or install malware. These ads can track your activity online, and if they aren’t securely passing on this information, it could be intercepted. 

This is why Brave Browser blocks ads by default. Sometimes Brave will impact the functionality of a webpage. For websites that you trust, you can turn off the tracking and enable pop-ups. In case you want to opt into advertisements, you’ll be rewarded with passive income and non-intrusive pre-packaged ads.

 

The Ethics of Ad-Blocking 

About five years ago, ad-blocking extensions like AdBlock Plus became more popular and controversial. Since websites make money from advertising revenue, is it wrong to block these ads and the creator’s source of income? 

On one side, there’s a legitimate argument that it may harm some medium-sized websites and creators. On the other hand, it prevents shady ads from taking and reselling your data, without leaving you a dime. 

Note:
Brave Browser provides a simple, easy-to-implement answer for this. If you’re concerned about the livelihood and revenue of a website that you trust, you can simply turn off ad-blocking for that website.
Also known as “Shields Down” in the browser bar.

 

Rewards: The Basic Attention Token (BAT)

Through the Brave Rewards program, users opt into pre-packaged Brave ads that will pay them for views, distributing 70 percent of ad revenue back to users. These ads appear as push notifications on your desktop or in the background when you open up a new tab. 

For you, that’s an extra $7 to $10 a month paid out in Brave’s native cryptocurrency, Basic Attention Token (BAT). Advertisers also reap benefits as Brave boasts an impressive 14 percent ad click-through rate.

In the menu, you can also choose to automatically donate the BAT you earn from surfing the web to your favorite content creators. On Reddit, Twitter, and various other sites, you can click the triangular BAT icon to tip a content creator. Otherwise, you can allow Brave Rewards to donate a portion of your BAT monthly, to the most-visited websites.

You can link your Twitter, Youtube, Twitch, or website to become a verified creator. At this point, if you tip someone who hasn’t verified themselves as a creator, the tip will be stored in a wallet until they verify. Tips are sent and received anonymously so that your identity is not revealed

 

The Brave Crypto Wallet

Brave has even added their own native crypto wallet to their browser, integrating your portfolios with several other dApps. A version of the wallet has also been released as a mobile app for early testing. According to documentation, the wallet reduces CPU and memory usage while adding features important for any crypto wallet. 

Benefits of Brave’s native wallet:

  • Open license
  • Ledger & Trezor support
  • Live market data integrated from CoinGecko
  • Ability to buy, trade and sell cryptocurrency

Like MetaMask, the Brave wallet supports Ethereum and all accompanying Layer 2 blockchains like Polygon. It features a list of various dApps as well. In the coming year, it will look to integrate the Solana blockchain. 

Note that the wallet is still in the beta stage; there are complaints online regarding the fact that it doesn’t directly send Basic Attention Token (BAT) rewards directly to the wallet. 

Some crypto sites still do not recognize the wallet. Unlike MetaMask, there are still a few bumps in the road when it comes to integrating other Ethereum networks (i.e. Polygon).

It may be worth waiting until the bugs are ironed out before switching completely over to the Brave wallet. You can always install it and start collecting BAT rewards without actually relying on it for much else. 

Whether the Brave wallet will become a main staple in your crypto activities is hard to say, but they do have a great track record and are user centric and advocates of privacy and ownership and control of data. 

More info: Brave.com/wallet

The browser also provides integration with other popular exchanges and wallets, including Crypto.com, Binance, FTX, and Gemini. Rather than visiting a website, you can trade through these exchanges directly within the browser. All you need to do is open up a new tab. 

 

Tor Integration

For people extremely concerned about their privacy on the web, Brave provides Tor integration. Tor uses more than 6000 relays to conceal your location. It bounces your traffic through a lot of different servers around the world. 

Untangling these connections to find your original location is almost impossible. However, since your internet traffic is redirected across many pathways, Tor will lead to slower performance.

 

Scrutiny Over Affiliate Links

Brave has come under criticism in 2020 when users discovered that the browser redirected certain websites to affiliate links. For example, if someone typed in the URL for the Binance exchange, it would take them to the site through Brave’s affiliate link.

Brandon Eich, the company’s founder, apologized on Twitter. However, it left some former supporters with a sour taste in their mouths. After all, a company focused on user privacy and ad choices were covertly implementing affiliate links.

Monero developer Riccardo Spagni responded appropriately to this debacle on Twitter:

Bro. I don’t want my browser touching the URL that I type in the address bar.

Riccardo Spagni

 

Our Verdict on Brave

Brave provides an excellent browsing experience that will save you time, energy and bandwidth.

As a bonus you get rewarded for using Brave with BAT tokens.

It’s available for both Mobile (Android and Apple iOS) and PC (Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Chromium/Chromebook). It automatically integrates with different exchanges, offers its own native crypto wallet, allows you to access the internet securely through Tor, and rewards you for viewing ads.

We think that you should give Brave a try, and if you like it, make it your default browser.

One thing to note however is that blocking ads and trackers can break or limit some websites depending on how they’re built and what they are trying to do with your web browser data. For specific websites that you trust and/or choose to support by viewing their ads, you’ll need to set “Shields DOWN” to regain full web functionality.

Here’s what the Shields UP or DOWN looks like if you click the brave icon in the browser bar (to the right of the address field):

 

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) 

Why should everyone, especially people who are actively trading or using crypto use a VPN? VPNs mask your traffic and IP address location, providing additional security over your user data and browsing history. If you’re trying to visit the internet from Canada, a VPN would route your connection through a computer elsewhere in the world. It could, for example, link it to a computer in Japan – making it appear to any website you visit, that your IP address is located in Japan.

The trackers in advertisements and web browsers are constantly collecting data about your internet-use habits. It can record the time you access a site, your IP address, and other information about your browser. 

On unsecured public wi-fi networks, a VPN can mask your identity and prevent your data from being intercepted by hackers. This is especially important if you’re using mobile payment, banking, or crypto services.

Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and many other services track your activity to provide customized ads and build databases to sell to third-party companies. It generates massive amounts of revenue that we don’t see ourselves.

 

Choosing a VPN

Choosing a VPN for the first time is daunting and confusing. Some VPNs are free but we would advise against using these services. Free VPNs will often sell your data to third-party companies, the same way that Google or Facebook would. After all, the software company needs to generate revenue.

Instead, it’s worth paying for a good VPN.

Here are some things to consider when you’re choosing your service.

VPN Quality
Can it bypass VPN blockers on sites like Netflix with geographically restricted content? Does it have reliable customer service and a money-back guarantee?

Widely Compatible
Is it available on desktop and mobile?

Number of Devices You Can Use With Your Subscription
Having four or five seams reasonable these days.

High Number of Locations
If a country cracks down on VPNs, there are plenty of other countries to route your traffic through. 

 

Takeaways

Most web browsers, sites, and applications feature trackers that capture your data. This brings you more and more annoying advertisements.

If you’re accessing crypto or financial services on your phone or laptop, it’s best to ensure your data is protected.

While the Brave browser isn’t perfect, it has a built-in ad and tracker blocker. It lets you choose to opt into push notification advertisements, and pays you for viewing and clicking them through its native cryptocurrency BAT. Passively, this can generate $7-10 per month. In addition, it integrates with various cryptocurrency exchanges and wallets, allowing you to trade directly from the browser. Since it blocks ads and trackers, Brave uses less memory and loads faster than other web browsers. 

If you want to further obfuscate your location and IP address, a VPN is the way to go. It acts as a tunnel, routing your internet connection through a computer or server somewhere else in the world. In terms of security, compatibility, and number of locations available, ExpressVPN comes out on top.

Using ExpressVPN as well as the Brave browser will make your web surfing adventures much safer, even on free public Wi-Fi.   

If you want more privacy, you can also use Tor to conceal your internet activity.

It’s also available on most platforms including Mobile (Android and Apple iOS) and PC (Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Chromium/Chromebook).