Knowing how to read and use the Shields panel will help keep you informed and safe while browsing. We’ll go through and briefly detail each section of the Shields panel and what they mean or control.
Observe the image below:
The top section of the panel is fairly straightforward but we should highlight and define a few things.
Use this toggle inside the Shields panel to switch between Up and Down states. You can think of this as a “power” button for Shields. Note that the Shields icon in the address bar will change depending on its state.
When Shields are Up:
- The icon is orange
- Protections are currently “on” or “active and are monitoring/blocking content on the site you’re currently viewing.
When Shields are Down:
- The icon is light grey
- Protections are “off” or “inactive” and the page web page you’re viewing will display and allow all content the site requests to render.
Domain Name and Block Count
The domain name for the site you’re currently visiting is displayed in center of this section, along with the total number of page elements Brave has blocked on the site during this session. Remember that the name that appears here is the only site that will be affected by changing any settings in the panel. The block count for the site listed will reset every time you leave the site or the page is reloaded.
Shields can block several different types of online content from, tracking software to phishing/malware attacks. The protections listed here are the same ones listed in the Default Shields settings:
This switch lets you block ads that appear in web pages and the trackers which come with them. Notice that this setting controls both ads and trackers. Most ads are you see on the Web also try to track you. Rather than split up which trackers also include ads, we just control all of them with one switch.
The number next to the detailed view drop-down arrow reflects the number of ads/trackers blocked. Click the arrow to reveal a list of everything blocked by Brave on the current domain:
By default Brave will not block first Party ads which are actually part of the sites you visit — only those which are embedded from other sources on websites. An ad that’s part of the site you’re visiting isn’t surveilling you online — we already block all the trackers which do this. It can often be difficult to decide which parts of a site are really ads.
Consider the case of “sponsored” blog posts - should these be blocked? What about shopping sites which tell you all the great features of the product you’re looking at and it's accessories? We steer clear by only blocking tracking — and this includes most ads.
However, Shields does offer an
Aggressive option for blocking Ads and trackers. Selecting the
Aggressive option will block all site ads and trackers, including the first party ones.
Connections upgraded to HTTPS
This upgrades connections from HTTP to HTTPS based on HTTPS Everywhere’s rules. When enabled, Brave will use an encrypted connection on every site we know supports it. The number on the left shows how many individual connections were upgraded by these rules.
The detailed view for this protection reveals each script blocked by Brave. From here, you can allow or block individual scripts on the website to fine-tune your browsing experience. These changes are only active until you leave the tab.
This is an advanced feature. If you block scripts, a lot of sites will break. Don’t turn this on unless you’re willing to open the Shields panel on most of the sites you visit.
Use this setting to tell Brave whether or not to block, send, or accept first or third party cookies on the domain currently in focus. By default, Brave will allow first party cookies and block cookies from any third party. First party cookies are normally needed for you to log into a site.
The Cookie Control setting uses a drop-down menu containing three separate states:
- Cross-site cookies blocked: Accepts 1st party cookies and blocks any others on the site.
- Cookies Blocked: Blocks all cookies, both 1st and 3rd party on the site.
- All Cookies Allowed: Accepts both 1st and 3rd party cookies on the site.
Enabling this setting makes it harder to capture that data by turning off many features commonly used to differentiate between devices. Not all fingerprinting is used in this way - sites that host online games, display maps or allow audio/video editing will use these techniques legitimately. The features turned off by this setting are not designed with the intent to track you, but they can be used to do so.
Brave blocks these attempts for third-party sites by default. If you disable them for all sites, some rich web applications may break. Use the drop down menu to set how Brave handles fingerprinting attempts:
- Fingerprinting blocked (strict, may break sites): Blocks all fingerprinting attempts. Selecting this option increases privacy, but may also cause additional compatibility issues with websites.
- Fingerprinting blocked (standard) : Adds a small amount of randomness to semi-identifying endpoints; small enough that it’s not noticeable to humans, but sufficient to prevent sites from tracking you.
- Allow all Fingerprinting: Allows both first and third party fingerprinting.
For a more thorough explanation of how Brave handles Fingerprinting protection, please read our extensive blog post which goes over how the system works in great detail.