More and more people are leaving mainstream browsers such as Google Chrome for security-focused alternatives like Brave, which has become very popular in recent years.
This is hardly a surprise, given how Big Tech treats user data and privacy. Plus, browser security is essential if you want to stay safe online.
If you are new to Brave, however, you might want to know how to get the most out of it. Here’s a list of tips and tricks to further enhance your privacy and security without affecting the browser’s performance.
1. Strengthen Brave Shields
If you’ve used Brave for an extended period of time, you know the Shields feature is what makes this browser so great, as it blocks trackers, ads, fingerprinting, and upgrades all connections to HTTPS.
The default settings offer a great deal of protection and privacy, but enhancing them might be a good idea, especially if you find yourself on a fishy site for some reason.
You can easily access Shields by clicking the Brave icon in the address bar. For a more detailed view, type in brave://settings/shields and press Enter.
Here, you can turn Shields on or off and set the browser to aggressively block trackers and ads, force it to block all scripts and cookies, and enable advanced fingerprinting protection.
Remember that some pages may not load or function properly if the blocking is too aggressive.
2. Configure Privacy and Security Settings
Apart from enhancing protection in Shields, you should also configure the privacy and security settings.
To do this, press the three little bars in the upper right corner, click Settings in the drop-down menu, and then navigate to Privacy and security. Alternatively, you can just type brave://settings/privacy in the address bar.
In this area, you can tinker around and customize the settings however you deem fit. For example, you can navigate to Cookies and other site data and force Brave to clear all cookies automatically when you close a window, or you can make sure the browser sends a “Do Not Track” request with your traffic.
Brave collects very little data from its users but sends telemetry information. If you’re uncomfortable with that, you can toggle off Allow privacy-preserving product analytics (P3A) and Automatically send daily usage ping to Brave.
And to adjust permissions (location, camera, microphone, etc.) and change content settings, just scroll down and click Site and Shields Settings.
Data has been described as the 21st century’s oil. It has become a precious commodity for businesses, so it’s no wonder our information is being collected and resold aggressively.
The worst offenders in this regard are social media sites, but there are plenty of other legitimate reasons to avoid social media. Thankfully, Brave makes that very easy with its social media blocking feature.
To access this feature, scroll down to Social media blocking in the settings menu, or type brave://settings/socialBlocking in the address bar.
Here, you can block login buttons and embedded posts from Google, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If you toggle these off, you will not see social media embeds anywhere on the web.
4. Use Brave’s Private Window With Tor Connectivity
Brave is a pretty unique browser for several reasons, one of them being the fact that you can access Tor with it—just click New private window with Tor in the main menu bar or press Alt+Shift+N on your keyboard.
Tor, short for The Onion Router, is an open-source privacy project that anonymizes browsing by directing traffic through a volunteer overlay network.
By accessing the internet through Brave’s Tor window, you will hide your IP address from the websites you visit and make it very difficult for your ISP to determine what you’re doing online. The downside is that Brave will appear sluggish and perform significantly slower than usual since your traffic goes through many relays in Tor.
Technically, you could also use Brave to access and browse the deep web, but we highly recommend using the official Tor Browser instead (like Brave, the Tor Browser is completely free).
5. Add Extensions
Although Brave has many cool and useful features, adding privacy and security-focused extensions can further improve your browsing experience.
Brave is based on Chromium, which means you can add almost any extension you use in Chrome. So, feel free to visit the Chrome Web Store and install any extension you like.
So, which Brave extensions should you consider to improve privacy and security?
For a start, J2TEAM Security. This extension blocks malware, phishing, and scam sites, which makes it a great addition to your browser. You can also consider installing FlowCrypt, which adds PGP encryption to Gmail. Both of these extensions are free, very easy to use, and will most definitely add another layer of security to Brave.
Besides those two, you can also try out uBlock Origin or a similar ad-blocking extension if you’re not happy with the performance of Brave’s built-in ad-blocking feature.
It’s always a good idea to research any extension you are interested in because some have major security issues. Additionally, note that adding too many extensions can slow down the browser.
In any case, you can check which extensions you have installed by clicking the little puzzle icon in the top right corner and selecting Manage extensions in the drop-down menu.
Get the Most Out of Brave
Leaving one browser for another is never easy. No matter how similar all browsers may be, our fingers (and brains) like familiarity, so the switch is rarely a smooth experience.
That said, switching from a mainstream browser to Brave is the right call, no matter how you look at it. Brave is safer, more private, and faster than most browsers out there. Still, making small adjustments can go a long way in enhancing your security and privacy and thus improving your overall browsing experience.
If you strengthen Brave Shields, tweak the security settings, block social media sites, add handy extensions, and use Tor when necessary, you will likely stay safe while preserving your privacy.