Privacy-focused Brave browser in trouble for installing VPN on Windows without user consent

Brave browser, known for its privacy-first features, has come under fire after a report highlighted that it has been silently installing VPN services on user’s Windows without asking permission.

| Updated on: Oct 24 2023, 13:25 IST
Brave browser
The two criticized VPN services are called Brave VPN and Brave Wireguard, which act as VPN and firewall for the Brave browser. (Brave )
Brave browser
The two criticized VPN services are called Brave VPN and Brave Wireguard, which act as VPN and firewall for the Brave browser. (Brave )

Ever since its initial release in 2016, Brave browser has made a name for itself for being privacy-centric and keeping its users' data protected. However, a report has now forced many to question its approach to transparency. The report claims that ever since the start of 2022, the browser has been silently installing two VPN services to users' Windows devices. These downloads would happen in the background and automatically, without the knowledge of users. This new development has raised concerns about the reliability of the Brave browser.

The report comes from Ghacks who found a post on Privacy Guides that the browser “installs its VPN Service without user consent and regardless of whether the VPN is used or has been used in the past”. However, do not fear. These two software are not malware. In fact, these are an extra paid feature on the platform when you want to buy a VPN + Firewall. It was also found that both the services remained dormant on the device till a user paid for it and activated it. However, the big problem is that it has been downloaded without user consent having been obtained.

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Brave browser found to install VPN services without user consent

The company's VP of engineering made a post on GitHub once the issue was raised by several users giving a detailed explanation of why the browser behaved in such a way and adding that the “ideal situation would be to move these services to be installed when VPN is first USED (post-purchase) and not at install time.”.

The post also mentioned that this issue would be fixed in an upcoming update and after that, it would not be auto-installed in devices. The update will also remove the service registrations during the upgrade so that users who already have the apps installed on their devices will have the service removed.

However, it appears that despite the prompt action by the engineering team of Brave browser, it was not enough to keep the users' frustrations at bay. A user commented on the post, “It is terribly disappointing that a security-branded browser is doing something blatantly insecure. At least you are rolling back the change... but how did this get approved in the first place? I sing Brave's praises to family and friends, please don't give me a reason to change that”.

While the update should solve the problem, if some users do not wish to wait that long, there is something you can do right now to get rid of the VPN services. This solution was offered by a user in another GitHub post. You can uninstall and reinstall the browser without admin rights so that the program cannot install additional services.

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First Published Date: 24 Oct, 13:10 IST