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Rancid IE6 'more secure' than Chrome and Opera US bank says

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Microsoft's creaking Internet Explorer 6 is more secure and popular than either Google's Chrome or Opera US banking giant Chase has determined.

The bank's therefore decided its online baking services will continue to support aging the IE 6 but drop support for Chrome and Opera.

IE 6 is nine years old and even Microsoft is now desperately speaking out against the browser, to get individuals and businesses to move on to IE 8.

Micosoft's Australian business unit recently equated using IE 6 to being as risky as drinking - or maybe, eating - a carton of nine-year-old milk as it lacked up-to-date cross-site scripting and anti-malware protection among other defenses.

Chase has said it will support later versions of Microsoft's browser, such as IE 8, that does offer greater protection. Also making the cut are Mozilla's Firefox 2.0 and higher and version 3.0 and higher of Apple's Safari on the Mac - but not the PC.

The bank has "strongly recommended" people using Chrome or Opera upgrade to a version of IE, Firefox or Safari it supports.

The bank's site cited security and popularity as behind its reason to dump Chrome - which has been growing fastest of all browser - and Opera.

Chase said in a story pick up here: "There are dozens of browsers in use today, but not all offer the minimum levels of security that we require while others may not perform well with our site. The security of your accounts and private information is one of our highest priorities and some browsers, especially older versions, are simply higher security risks to use with our site."

If a new browser grows in popularity, Chase will assess and test its security and performance to determine whether the bank should support its use.

Claiming one browser is more secure than another is a difficult task, as all are targets. IE is probably the most widely attacked, followed by Firefox. Interestingly, IE, Firefox and Safari were all felled during the annual Pwn2Own competition at CanSecWest, and only Chrome was left unhacked. Google's browser has a very sophisticated sandbox design that makes it extremely hard to attack.

One possible factor behind the decision by Chase, the retail banking arm of JP Morgan Chase, is that it's in the middle of digesting the IT operations of Washington Mutual - the failed bank acquired in 2008 when the economy was heading south. Chase could be looking for ways to curb its IT costs by focusing on just a handful of browsers on the app-development front.

JP Morgan Chase has already seen its customer satisfaction rating drop since the Washington Mutual deal and this won't help. The decision blocks users accessing their accounts at their convenience on PCs using the Opera Desktop browser and mobile devices including the iPhone - now a quarter of US smartphones - using Opera Mini, in addition to blocking the fast growing segment of Chrome adopters.

Opera called the situation "disappointing", while Google has not commented. ®

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