Feeds

Online banks, retailers shut out Linux, Opera, Konqueror fans

So much for customer segmentation

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Remote control for virtualized desktops

We've received an enormous amount of feedback from our story on the impossibility of opening money-saving online energy accounts with Scottish Power if you are a Linux or Opera user.

Many of you reporting that it's difficult for Linux users with default browser configurations to view the Scottish Power site at all. Instead, Linux users receive an unhelpful message that "We have detected certain aspects of your system that will prevent you experiencing this site fully. These are: You are not running a Windows or Apple Macintosh operating system".

Opera users can't use the site either, and with your help we think we've narrowed down this issue to Scottish Power's use of an antiquated version of a software tool called BrowserHawk, which incorrectly reports that Opera fails to support neither Flash or cookies.

There is a workaround for both Opera and Linux users, but it's only partially effective.

Opera and KDE's Konqueror allow user agent spoofing, where the user agent string is altered allowing surfers to pretend to sites that they're using a different browser. A similar trick is also possible with Mozilla, which we'll take as an example.

In this case, first make sure you've got Flash installed then set you browser identity to Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Mac_Power PC) or you could try pretending to be using a Windows machine, again by changing your preferences to override default user agent configs in the user.js file. There's more details on this here.

Netscape 4.x will never view this site on Linux because it's ID cannot be changed, Lynx can have it's ID changed but fails as it can't run JavaScript, which is heavily used on the site. Along with cookies and Flash.

Reg reader and Linux fan Alex Tucker tells us he wasn't able to get very far into Scottish Power's Web site even after changing his browser ID. So user agent spoofing isn't always going to nail this problem.

Bankers show grey matter

Scottish Power discriminatory policies against minority computing users (it's yet to give us a response on this beyond saying it is looking into the issue) illustrate a wider problem of commercial Web sites failing to allow users of perfectly capable alternative browsers from using their online facilities.

A useful site which documents support for online banking for Konqueror users amply illustrates this point, and show how many financial institutions worldwide are making life difficult for potential customers.

Looking at the UK, let's say well done to Egg, Smile, and Lloyd's TSB. Alternative browser users who fancy using NatWest or HFC's online facilities need not apply.

NatWest, which only welcomes users of IE and Netscape 4, is a pet hate by many people who responded to our original article. Netscape 6 is not allowed at Royal Bank of Scotland either "because staff haven't had the chance to evaluate the security of the browser", which has been available for almost two years.

Can anyone seriously suggest IE is preferable for security reasons? Do these people not monitor the security environment and notice the weekly flood of security alerts concerning IE compared to the drip (one we recall of in the last five years) concerning Opera?

Well actually there is someone who can - and it's Marks & Spencer which says "to protect you from certain usability and/or security issues we currently do not support Opera, Mozilla, earlier versions of Netscape or IE. If your preferred browser is not supported, we recommend that you consider co-installing a supported version." ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Bada-Bing! Mozilla flips Firefox to YAHOO! for search
Microsoft system will be the default for browser in US until 2020
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
Be real, Apple: In-app goodie grab games AREN'T FREE – EU
Cupertino stands down after Euro legal threats
'Cleantech' a dirty word for VCs? RUBBISH!
They just think the current schemes are terrible
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.