Is Brave Browser Actually Safe, or Is It Just Chrome in Disguise?

Posted on Sep 12, 2023 by Elly Hancock

Browsers have a reputation for harvesting your data, serving you ads, and tracking you as you move across different sites. Brave is often touted as a privacy-friendly alternative, so I wanted to discover for once and for all: is Brave browser safe?

It’s a valid concern, especially since Brave is based on Chromium — the same platform as Google Chrome. This means if Chrome changes or removes any of its features, Brave will change too. Rumour has it that Google will be removing support for ad blocker extensions in the future, which will directly impact what Brave can offer. 

The possibility of a future without ad blocker extensions doesn’t mean you should avoid Brave altogether. It has plenty of features to protect your online safety. So, let’s have a look at the pros and cons to see whether it’s the right choice for you.

What Is Brave Browser? Is It That Different From Chrome?

Brave is a free, privacy-first browser available on all major operating systems. At first glance, Brave shares many similarities with Chrome. After all, it’s built on the same Chromium framework.

As you dig deeper, you’ll discover Brave brings a refreshing, privacy-led twist to the browsing experience. Let’s have a look at how its features compare to Chrome.

Features Brave Chrome
QR code link sharing
Private video calls
Built-in password manager
Fingerprinting protection
Cross-site and third-party cookie blocker
Tor integration
Data syncing
Background video playback
Built-in ad and tracker blocker
Private browsing
Built-in VPN

Both Brave and Chrome offer advanced security features to boost your online privacy. Each browser has HTTPs-only mode, forcing websites to use secure connections to keep your information concealed. On Brave, this feature is enabled by default, but you’ll need to turn it on in your Chrome settings. Small changes like this make Brave’s privacy-first approach stand out.

Brave also comes with automatic unlinkable bounce tracking (known as Brave Shields), to stop cross-site tracking as you move around the web. Chrome offers a Do Not Track feature to stop sites tracking your web history, but it doesn’t prevent cross-site profiling. In typical Google fashion, it’s turned off by default. It also doesn’t offer protection against third-party cookies or invasive ads.

As you can see, the main difference is Brave already has the privacy features you need integrated and ready to use. Chrome supports hundreds of extensions so you can increase your privacy, but it simply can’t compete with Brave’s ready-to-go offering.

Brave Browser Pros and Cons

Prons Cons
👍Blocks ads, bounce tracking, and trackers by default
👍Digital fingerprint blocking
👍Privacy-oriented search engine
👍Tor integration
👎Limited extension support
👎Built-in VPN is limited
👎Uses own ad-based revenue model
👎Some site compatibility issues
👍HTTPS Everywhere
👍Built-in VPN and firewall
👍Relies on Chromium open-source code

While the Brave browser comes with many advantages, it also has limitations. It doesn’t support many extensions, which you’ll find in abundance with Chrome. Since it blocks ads so intensely, this can also cause some site compatibility issues and may affect the layout of certain webpages.

Brave blocks ads, but it still has its own ad-based revenue model. Brave Rewards allows you to earn tokens for watching ads, which you can then exchange for other currencies or gift cards. You can decide which ads you see and earn tokens from, which gives you some control over how you support ad creators. That said, ads are annoying at any level, whether or not you earn something from them.

Brave’s built-in VPN is useful for adding another layer of security to your connection, but it comes at an additional cost. It also lacks some additional features like leak protection, so it could expose your traffic if something interrupts your connection.

The server network is limited too, which means you might not find the location you need. It can cause some speed issues if servers become congested, especially during peak hours. You can download PIA VPN to access top-notch security features, leak protection, and worldwide servers with reliable speeds.

Is Brave a Safe Browser?

In short, yes. Brave is one of the safest browsers to use. Unlike many of its competitors, it doesn’t track your every online move, share your activity with third parties, or log your search history. So, what’s on offer? Let’s look at some of Brave’s best security features. 

Brave Shields is one of the browser’s most popular security features. By default, Brave Shields blocks trackers, including cross-site cookies monitoring you around the web. This means websites can’t profile you or spy on your browsing history to serve you ads and popups elsewhere. 

For more privacy, you can toggle on the Forgetful Browsing mode to automatically clear cookies when you close a site. This ensures you remain logged out from any sites when you’re finished, and it stops websites from reidentifying you if you revisit them. 

Brave Shields also blocks invasive and third-party ads, which stops annoying and potentially harmful popups. It even uses CNAME uncloaking to detect trackers using advanced techniques to bypass ad blockers, ensuring they don’t slip under the radar. If a site seems suspicious, Shields will alert you to help you avoid potential malware or phishing attacks.

Brave turns on Shields for every website you visit. You can easily switch it off, or choose the level of protection you need. For example, you can select standard or aggressive ad blocking.

2. Fingerprinting Randomization

As part of the Brave Shields feature, the browser also provides fingerprinting randomization to block fingerprint tracking. Essentially, it stops trackers from profiling you based on your preferences. 

This feature works by blocking browser language and font fingerprinting preferences, which many advertisers use as a workaround so they can still track you even if you use an ad blocker. Brave’s fingerprinting randomization makes your browser appear completely unique each time you start a session, so sites are unable to link any previous behavior to you.

Many browsers offer incognito mode so you can search the web more anonymously. Brave takes this one step further with its own independent search index — Brave Search. This search engine relies on Brave’s index to display your results, which ensures none of your results can be tracked by other big tech search engines. It also ranks search results independently to ensure no bias or algorithms based on your activities. 

In fact, Brave Search promises to never track or share your search queries altogether, which is a breath of fresh air compared to other search engines. A huge plus is that it’s available on desktop and mobile as the default browser, so you can browse with more anonymity without having to change anything.

4. HTTPS Everywhere

Brave uses a HTTPS-only mode, but this isn’t unheard of with other browsers. Most use HTTPS Everywhere, which upgrades sites to secure connections by using encryption. This is especially important when visiting websites requiring sensitive personal information, like your address or credit card details. The main difference is that with Brave, this feature is already switched on.

5. Tor Integration

Tor integration is one of Brave’s most unique security features. Rather than having to open the Tor network independently of your browser, you can simply head to your privacy settings and turn on the Tor toggle switch. This takes you to the Tor browser so you can surf the web privately or access dark web links without being tracked.

Tor makes your traffic harder to track by sending your activity through a series of encrypted nodes before it reaches its destination. Since your traffic has multiple lines of activity, this makes it incredibly difficult for websites to track you. The encryption also conceals your location, so websites can’t see your IP address.

6. Off The Record

In May 2023, Brave browser announced it would be rolling out a new feature called Off The Record (OTR). This allows you to conceal your traffic from other people who have access to your device. It was primarily developed for those who are worried about their safety or are a victim of domestic violence. 

Although it’s only in beta mode, Brave’s OTR feature brings huge security advantages. Sites can label their content as potentially sensitive, so you can request to visit the webpage in OTR mode. This stops the site from being stored in your browser history. Anyone who looks through your search activity can’t see that specific site. Cookies and other trackers are also blocked automatically. 

7. Brave Firewall and VPN

For an additional cost, you can upgrade your Brave browser to include the firewall and VPN. The VPN allows you to connect to a remote server, changing your IP address and encrypting your connection. 

One huge advantage is it encrypts all of your device traffic, not just your in-browser activity. Since your traffic is encrypted, no one can see what you’re doing online or track your activity. This drastically reduces your digital footprint and helps you browse freely, almost without a trace. 

It’s integrated within the browser and can protect up to 5 devices at once. That said, the speeds are pretty shaky and it doesn’t have additional protection to secure your traffic if the VPN connection stops unexpectedly. It also has a fairly limited server count. For more reliable speeds, military-grade encryption, and unbeatable security features, you can download PIA VPN. You also get unlimited simultaneous connections.

What Does Reddit Think About Brave Browser?

Many users praise the Brave Browser on Reddit for its robust privacy features, including its ad-blocking and tracker-blocking capabilities. They appreciate its focus on privacy and data protection, often comparing it favorably to other mainstream browsers

Is Brave Browser worth it? Some Reddit users think so

Some subreddits highlight compatibility issues on certain platforms, occasional user experience and stability problems, and limited extension support as areas for improvement. Overall, Reddit users have very few concerns about the safety of Brave browser.

Some Reddit users feel Brave has room for improvement…

Overall, Brave Browser Reddit seems to be mostly positive, with many discussions about its privacy features, ad-blocking capabilities, and Brave Rewards program. 

Boost Your Online Security with Brave Browser

The Brave browser stands out as a privacy-focused and feature-rich alternative to other web browsers. Its built-in ad-blocking, default tracker blocking, and emphasis on your anonymity are just a few of the best features offering a safer and more private browsing experience. 

It’s a shame about the lack of extension support, but if you’re more concerned about security than customizability, it’s an easy compromise. 

To take your online security even further, consider downloading PIA VPN. Our VPN uses unbreakable encryption to secure your connection and mask your location. It’s also risk-free to try with a 30-day money-back guarantee.


Can Brave browser be trusted?

Yes, you can trust Brave browser. With features like a built-in ad and tracking blocker, fingerprinting randomization, and private search, Brave is one of the best browsers for online security and privacy on any platform.

Is Brave browser 100% safe?

No browser is 100% safe, but Brave is definitely one of the safest options. It blocks intrusive ads and trackers, implements HTTPS Everywhere, and offers protection against malicious websites. It also offers Tor integration so you can add more anonymity to your online traffic and disguise your IP address.

Is Brave a Chinese browser?

No, Brave isn’t a Chinese browser. Its headquarters are in San Francisco, California. Brave was co-founded by Brendan Eich (also co-creator of Firefox) and Brian Bondy.

What are the disadvantages of Brave browser?

One disadvantage of Brave browser is its limited extension support compared to other popular browsers, like Chrome or Firefox. The good news is many of the security extensions you need are already built into the Brave browser, so the lack of extensions isn’t a huge issue, at least not for privacy or security.