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Browser developers team up to thwart hackers

Security summit

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

Security developers representing four of the major browser firms have met up to discuss how to combat security threats. Techies working on Internet Explorer, Mozilla/FireFox and Opera teamed up with the folks from Konqueror to discuss how to combat security risks posed by phishing, aging encryption ciphers and inconsistent SSL Certificate practices. A surprising amount of consensus emerged through the informal meeting, hosted by Konqueror's George Staikos in Toronto last week.

All agreed to push ahead with plans to introduce stronger encryption protocols. "With the availability of bot nets and massively distributed computing, current encryption standards are showing their age," Staikos writes. "Prompted by Opera, we are moving towards the removal of SSLv2 from our browsers. IE will disable SSLv2 in version 7 and it has been completely removed in the KDE 4 source tree already."

Colour coding the address bar on browsers, to indicate whether the digital certificate of a site has been validated, and Microsoft's development of an anti-phishing plug-in for its upcoming IE7 browser also got an informal thumbs up. Altogether the meeting showed techies on competing teams have come a long way since the browser wars of the late 1990s and are now focused on fighting a common enemy, virus peddlers and criminal hackers. "I'm very optimistic about the future of co-operation among browser developers and I hope this recent work signals a new trend of good relations," Staikos concludes.

A fuller account of the meeting can be found on a KDE development blog here. ®

The next step in data security

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