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HSBC embraces NetSurf and RISC OS

Published: 26th Oct 2006, 22:51:18 | Permalink | Printable

Mega corp gives RISC OS a chance, apologises to punters

HSBC are coolA 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."


NetSurf website HSBC website

Previous: NetSurf users hit by HSBC account freeze
Next: October news in brief


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I do hope this registers in The Register.

 is a RISC OS UserCharlesB on 26/10/06 11:43PM
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I'm sure the attention this story got on the web helped, but nonetheless it strikes me that HSBC deserve credit for this.

If they'd not responded to their customers it would have indicated a sad lack of consideration. As it is, it does reinforce their claim they take security and customer service seriously.

 is a RISC OS Userflypig on 27/10/06 2:00AM
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Agreed. I think is is very good of them.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 27/10/06 2:52AM
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...or from the other side of the coin, the 'request' for users to use the most secure/up to date version of exploder has backfired, [link], and they now require the security of some obscure little OS/browser that nobody outside of this community has thougt of cracking. well, we can dream that RISC OS software should be the standard...

 is a RISC OS Userlostamarble on 27/10/06 5:13AM
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Thumbs up for that bank!It is also a great aknowledgement for that bank!

 is a RISC OS Userhighlandcattle on 27/10/06 10:05AM
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I mean risc os

 is a RISC OS Userhighlandcattle on 27/10/06 10:06AM
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A nice letter, I can understand the HSBC *not* offering help-desk support (after all how many combinations of OS and Browsers are out there anyway ?). They have, however, accepted RISC OS and a RISC OS browser as "supported" that *is* a good thing.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 27/10/06 1:14PM
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They deserve a lot praise not just in RISCOS circles. When other banks see the positive praise (i.e. good publicity) for HSBC they may warm to RISCOS.

 is a RISC OS Usermripley on 27/10/06 3:12PM
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You can't really expect them to train their support staff in RISC OS for the sake of so few customers. But what they have done, in acknowledginhg our existence and at least making online banking with then possible for us, is to be commended.

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 27/10/06 5:11PM
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I feel I should point out (because I'm very pleased with them) that LloydsTSB also have a sensible approach to their internet banking system and it will work fully with most browsers (O1 and 2, WXL, Fresco, Netsurf). Cheers!

 is a RISC OS Userfwibbler on 27/10/06 6:47PM
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That's impressive - well the Midland (I mean HSBC).

It's particularly good in the light of my current experience with Barclays who won't let me make telephone banking transactions (talking to real people) on my Debit Card. The money is there but they just won't let me spend it. They queried a transaction a while back with R-Comp, I now wonder whether that was the bank's fault too. Coupled with the problems various Iyonix users have had trying to purchase the RO5.12 update, that turned out not to be a RO issue, you wonder whether the security systems are taking over.

Or maybe I'm turning into a conspiracy theorist ;-)

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 27/10/06 9:04PM
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fwibbler: I find the Lloyds site pretty slow with Netsurf, but it seems to work. The last time I tried it it wouldn't let me set up new payments with O2 (I think it was that that I was using at the time).

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 28/10/06 1:46AM
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I have written this HSBC Bank a letter about RISC OS Computers, so that they can now understand what RISC OS is and will Remain. :-)

 is a RISC OS Userdatawave on 29/10/06 4:24AM
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