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NatWest replies to browser banking debacle

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NatWest has got back to us over its decision to prevent access to its online banking service for the latest version of Navigator, Mozilla and Opera over security concerns. An official statement read:

"NatWest takes the issue of Internet security extremely seriously. Therefore, our policy is only to add browsers to our approved list for use with NWOLB (NatWest OnLine Banking) once we have fully tested compatibility ourselves.

"Our approved list offers users the flexibility of using Internet Explorer (IE) version 4.0 with service pack 2 to 6.0, and also the Netscape Navigator versions 4.1 to 4.75. The assertion in your recent article that NWOLB can only be accessed by IE browsers is not therefore accurate.

"These system requirements are clearly stated when customers apply for the NatWest OnLine Banking Service.

"We are still in the process of testing Netscape Navigator 4.76, 4.77 and 6 to ensure full compatibility with our service, however we are not suggesting in any way that these browser systems are not secure."

So there you have it. We have been privately assured that NatWest is keen to get the site working with Mozilla. Apparently the security concern with Navigator is thanks to Password Manager remembering passwords - something there is now a fix for. However customers that don't want to use Explorer to access the site are having to downgrade to Netscape 4.75.

There do remain some concerns however and sadly they revolve around the bank's apparent love affair with Microsoft. First of all, it is running on IIS4.0 - the Swiss cheese of servers - which last week Gartner advised companies to steer away from because of endemic security problems.

The browser conflicts appear to be arise from NatWest's shift from running a Java applet to using Microsoft ASP pages (basically Web pages but with Microsoft server-side script in them). And would you believe it, but this appears to conflict with Navigator but not with Explorer. ®

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