Brave Software, maker of the Brave web browser, introduces a news reader that protects user privacy by preventing internal and third parties from tracking the websites, articles, and story topics that people view.
Brave Today, as the service is called, uses technology that the company claims is different from the messaging services offered by Google and Facebook. It is designed to provide personalized newsfeeds so that Brave, ISPs and third parties cannot leave a trace. The new service is part of Brave's strategy to differentiate its browser as more privacy-friendly than the competition.
Key to Brave Today is a new content delivery network the company is introducing. Typically, messaging services use a single CDN to cache content and then deliver it to users. This allows the CDN or the service using it to display both the IP address and the newsfeed of each user. Over time, data can help services create detailed profiles of an individual's interests.
The Brave Today CDN takes a different approach. It is designed to separate a user's IP address from the content requested. An entity offers a load balancer that receives TLS encrypted traffic from the user. The load balancer then forwards the traffic to the CDN, which processes the request.
The load balancer knows the user's IP address, but because the request is encrypted, it cannot see what the user is looking for. The CDN only sees the request, but cannot determine the IP address that makes it up. The answers are provided in reverse order. To prevent the data from being combined, one provider is used for load balancing and another is used for content delivery, according to Brave.
Here is an illustration of how it works:
To prevent the load balancer provider from using the request and response sizes to infer the content of the encrypted data, the service also uses a technique called padding, which involves adding characters to the plaintext before it is encrypted.
The CDN uses various other techniques to maintain user anonymity. Below: Removal of various headings that can be used to identify the person making the request.
Brave says it is also taking steps to protect user information from its own employees. Among other things, the company has configured its account with the load balancer to restrict access to its logging resources. The load balancing provider also does not offer customers the option to use the proxy protocol to insert the requester's IP address in outbound requests. In the event that this changes, Brave has also entered into a contract with the load balancer that restricts access to logs or the use of the log, even if Brave requests it.
The messaging service personalizes content using data that never leaves the browser. It first searches for matches between domains on a series of RSS feeds based on the most popular websites rated by Alexa, Feedly and Comscore. Eventually, the service will use Brave's user ad system, which also uses only locally stored data.
Brave Today has 15 news categories from 300 sources. The newsreader is integrated directly into all versions of the browser with the exception of Android. To access the Reader, update Brave for Desktops to version 1.18.70 or higher or Brave for iOS to 1.22 or higher. Then open a new tab and scroll down. The Brave browser has more than 22 million active monthly users.