I hate Netscape – always have and probably always will. As a “web guy”, I have a copy of every browser on my main computer for testing. Seriously, I’ve got Netscape 3 Gold, IE 4, WebTV, etc, etc — all the way up to today’s “bleeding edge” browsers.
I’m using Netscape for my personal browser now, despite my document hatred for Netscape. Why? I do a LOT of online banking. I bet I could get by with writing two checks a month. Period. I pay all the bills (except the damn city water) online. I manage our bank, loans, investments, etc online. Because I’m sending all our private info back and forth online, I’m now using Netscape 7.
I prefer IE 6, but it has a HUGE hole in the SSL (that little “lock thingy”) that permits a someone to put themselves in the path between you and your bank, for example, and record your information transfer. This flaw is documented in IE 4 – IE 6, but it’s just now being exposed.
Microsoft promises that their “going to fix it”, but the folks that found the flaw suggest that MS would almost have to rewrite the entire browser function to reprocess the SSL. In other words, they might have to trash the current code and go write so new code. Although MS has the money for such a project, you have to understand how much MS code ties into everything they do. The same code is used in the OS (WinXP), MS Office (Win & Mac), and most of their productivity software. It’s also foundation code for future MS products. So it’s not as simple as just writing a new browser – which, in & of itself is not that simple either.
OK. So, risk assesment? Users will never know if their information has been intercepted, because the “thief” can still pass the info to the secure site and allow. In other words, the user won’t know that anyone else is listening, because everything will work exactly the same was as it always has. There is nothing that can be done on the store/bank/etc end to guard against it either, because the whole is on the user’s end. In other words, you’ll never know you’ve been robbed until someone takes everything you’ve got.
In the latest news, MS now claims to have patched “some” of the holes that this flaw exploits. So, Mac & Win users, get your updates here. Also, keep checking your “Windows Update” every week or so if you use Windows. Access it through your “START” menu or by launching your browser, clicking “HELP” and the “WINDOWS UPDATE”. Those of you who feel the urge to use Netscape, download the latest version free.