Brave Browser: Overview, how to use, benefits.

Brave Browser Overview

With Brave Browser, you can surf anonymously, similar to the Firefox ESR-based Tor Browser – but probably faster, since Chromium is used as the rendering engine instead of Gecko. This is how you use the privacy feature.

What is Tor Browser?

With the Tor Browser, you get a browser that lets you travel anonymously on the Internet: It fetches a new IP address from the Tor network (The Onion Router) every time you start it – an onion-skin connection setup, encryption and the factory default of not storing history information ensure maximum privacy. Three servers are involved as intermediaries, routing your surfing data to you and to the Internet, and not all of them have knowledge about you.
When you visit a web page in the Tor Browser, it communicates with the Entry Node. It forwards the data to the middle node, which sends it to the exit node, which finally contacts the web server. Each station only knows about the immediate predecessor and successor of the communication chain; thus, the entry node knows the IP address of the user, but due to the lack of direct contact, the middle node does not. This principle is useful for the Tor Browser without any special prior knowledge: After a short configuration, you start working with it (“out of the box”) with privacy in mind.

A short explanation of how Tor Browser works

When you start the Tor Browser, you can be sure that you are moving through the Internet with a “false” IP address. This is true at least within the Tor client: Unlike a Windows VPN program, such as those from Avira or Avast, the Tor Browser does not stretch its IP cloak over any online application clients. You also surf and download slower due to data redirection.

The Tor browser is based on Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release), which receives security updates, but only a major update about once a year. Firefox ESR is popular in the corporate environment because companies do not like new application versions (major releases) very much. These require extensive testing for compatibility with respect to the employee productivity environment. Testing is time-consuming and sometimes expensive. Even conservative private users, who do not want too frequent changes in the user interface in the context of browser updates, are right with Firefox ESR and/or its fork (descendant) Tor Browser. The Tor client is only interesting as a second browser, because it is noticeably slower than normal browsers.

Alternative to Tor Browser: Brave

Some users look for alternatives to the Tor browser – and find them in VPNs. These have a different approach. An alternative that is roughly comparable to the Tor browser in the anonymization segment is the Opera browser, which has a VPN function that has to be activated. The feature only affects the client itself in the browser from Norway. The Opera makers have reworked the interface for VPN management in the past.
Besides the Firefox ESR fork “Tor”, there are almost no browsers that harness the Tor network. The Brave browser is an exception: You surf faster with it than with the normal Firefox – in our benchmark test, Brave was ahead of the Mozilla program. Since Firefox’s ESR variant uses the Gecko rendering engine alongside Firefox, it is inferior to the Brave browser’s performance. Brave trumps with the Chromium engine, which renders web pages rapidly in numerous other Chromium-based browsers. However, with Brave you do not navigate the web with stealth right after launch, it has to be activated first.

Brave Browser: Anonymous surfing at the push of a button

If you are interested in Brave Browser, download it as a ZIP archive. Extract the file BraveBrowserStandaloneSetup.exe from it and execute it by double-clicking. Confirm the warning message of the Windows User Account Control (UAC) with “Yes”. The Brave client should start automatically after the installation. In the future, launch it manually using a new desktop shortcut or a Start menu search. For anonymous browsing, click the three-dash icon in the upper right corner to access the menu.

In it, decide on “New private window with Tor” by clicking on it. Alternatively, call it up by pressing Shift-Alt-N. A window will open with the message “Private window with Tor connectivity”. Based on the dark color scheme at the top of the browser window, you can see that you are dealing with an anonymous counterpart. In it, call up some websites as a test. The service should report a different (WAN) IP (Wide Area Network, i.e. the public IP address that accessed web servers get to grasp) than in an ordinary window of any other browser. The anonymous window has opened in addition to the previously existing one. In the normal Brave instance, press Ctrl-H to bring up a history tab. The pages visited in anonymous mode should not show up in your history.

If you are browsing in anonymous Tor mode in the Brave browser, DuckDuckGo used to serve as the search engine for the address bar. Brave Search was used in normal surfing mode. Meanwhile, the latter in-house search engine always serves as a search service.

Brave Search

Some time ago, the client tied up Google, but that’s in the past. DuckDuckGo and Brave Search focus more on privacy than Google, but they might deliver slightly worse web hits.
The Brave browser offers the entry “New private window” as an alternative discrete surfing option in the three-bar menu (top right). Calling up such a surfing environment is especially fast with Ctrl-Shift-N.
Again, Brave Search serves as a URL bar search service, URLs of visited pages are not stored by the client as in Tor mode, but the transmission of your IP address to web servers is done in plain text. This is as (in)secure as with the anonymous mode, which Firefox, Google Chrome, Chromium-Edge & Co. bring along. If you value maximum surfing protection, you should rather select the menu command “New private window with Tor”.

Tipp: Wissen Sie manchmal nicht, ob Sie ein normales privates Brave-Fenster (keine Chronik-Generierung, aber IP-Übertragung im Klartext) oder eine bestmögliche geschlossene Surfumgebung (keine Chronik-Generierung, IP bleibt unter Verschluss) nutzen? Dann drücken Sie Strg-T, um einen neuen Tab zu öffnen. Brave zeigt dir nun an, ob du ein “Private Window with Tor Connectivity” oder nur ein “Private Window” vor dir hast.

Brave update boosts browser to version 1.46.153

On January 6, 2023, the latest version of Brave was released: 1.46.153. The new features can be found in the changelog. The Brave Search search engine mentioned above is also exciting. It is supposed to be better than Google (and DuckDuckGo Search, which is also trimmed for privacy like Brave’s offer). You can find an assessment in our review “Brave Search: Review and test of the privacy-friendly search engine”.

Alternatives to the Brave browser

You can also use the Opera browser mentioned in this article to surf in isolation. You can find a guide to its virtual private network in the article “Opera VPN: How to use the lean browser anonymization”.
Alternatives to Brave Browser: Besides Opera and Tor Browser, LibreWolf is an interesting substitution option. IP obfuscation is not included here. However, the developers have taken the Firefox source code and modified it for a higher level of privacy. For experienced PC users who are willing to change their habits a bit, LibreWolf is a possible second or third browser.

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