HSBC embraces NetSurf and RISC OSPublished: 26th Oct 2006, 22:51:18 | Permalink | Printable
Mega corp gives RISC OS a chance, apologises to puntersA high street bank today apologised to NetSurf users for locking them out of their web bank accounts, and re-enabled their access. HSBC said it now recognises NetSurf and RISC OS, adding: "We welcome all standards compliant browsers and platforms." The move was welcomed by punters, who were amazed that a global corporation had responded positively to the needs of a niche OS platform.
Earlier this week, HSBC was criticised for freezing the online accounts of NetSurf users when it claimed their RISC OS computers were infected with spyware. After several punters complained that they were being forced by the bank to use Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape, they received this morning a letter telling them the block would be lifted. The bank blamed overzealous filters for mistaking NetSurf for a piece of PC malware of the same name, but said "it is generally better to be safe than sorry."
HSBC customer and NetSurf user Dr Peter Young said: "I, and no doubt others, will now have to eat quite a few words; this also may be a useful precedent in persuading other concerns not to limit access to the usual insecure browsers. I am also going to reply to this letter, expressing thanks and amazement. This has wider significance for RISC OS."
Fellow customer Dave Ruck said: "I'm very impressed that a multinational bank responded positively to a mere handful of users. This almost makes you think there could be a future for a minority platform."
|HSBC statement today
"We are writing to you to apologise for the fact that your access to Internet Banking was recently interrupted by our security systems.
This was due to our security systems interpreting your use of the NetSurf browser running on a RISC operating system, as a strain of malware that shares the same name.
Despite what you may have read, we are not in the business of limiting access to mainstream browsers. On the contrary, unless there are clearly identified security issues we welcome all standards compliant browsers and platforms. But we do reserve the right to limit help desk support, in the sense of talking inexperienced users through issues, to the mainstream browsers and systems.
What this does highlight is that we work hard behind the scenes, to try and protect customers from fraudsters. We use a layered system of defences, of which the log on sequence is the only element visable to customers. Our systems then apply various scans and filters to a number of variables to ensure our mutual security. Sometimes, as is in this case these prove over zealous, but we believe that it is generally better to be safe than sorry.
We appreciate that the interruption in our online service to you may have been an inconvenience, and we are sorry for that. We have modified our systems to re-enable access from the NetSurf browser, and look forward to welcoming you back to our service."
However, the NetSurf development team expressed caution as they have yet to confirm the exact reason why the open source web browser triggered HSBC's security alarms. They fear there may be a deep rooted bug in the software's cookie or form handling code that should be located and addressed.
Programmer John-Mark Bell said: "The evidence I've seen so far is entirely circumstantial. That it's supposedly now fixed is great, but if it's something we're doing wrong, then I'd rather it was still broken, to be honest."
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