PayPal has released a white paper via their blog which suggests that future visitors to PayPal may receive a message asking them to upgrade their browser in order to continue using the PayPal service. Specifically, “unsafe” browsers which include versions of Internet Explorer prior to version 7, earlier versions of FireFox, Safari Web Browsers and any other browser that does not support the latest security methods will be denied access to the PayPal website. PayPal hopes that, by preventing access to visitors using older version browsers, it can convince the visitors to upgrade to more secure browser versions. This will protect both the browser user (from online security threats) and PayPal, through reduced account access and account losses as a result of phishing.
It’s about time! Hopefully this act by PayPal will be the trickle that forms a stream that forms a river for online security. Currently, only a small percentage of computer users understand the dangers of browsing the internet. Most do not know that your computer can be infected with a trojan, passwords can be stolen and your privacy violated simply by visiting an unsafe web page. These attacks often happen in the background, hidden to the user and the victim will never even know that they’ve been infected. Often times, the end result of this is a need for a computer professional to visit and perform spyware and virus cleanup to fix the infected computer. By informing users who visit their website that their browser is not safe, PayPal is providing an excellent service to the internet that will result in a safer experience online for everyone. It could also save the average consumer billions of dollars in PC security related charges.
This solution has been suggested before, preventing visitors from accessing a website if they are using older or unsupported browsers. The problem is that you can’t, from a business perspective, exclude potential visitors from your website. Doing so will only frustrate them and convince them to go elsewhere for business, to a competitors website that does not ban their browser. However, a large company like PayPal is mostly immune to this problem. They already have a firm grasp on the online market for payment of goods and services, and enough companies use PayPal to process transactions that users will be more likely to follow their instructions than turn away. We need more large companies like PayPal to enforce these types of standards before the little guys like us can follow suit. Eventually, however, if this plan by PayPal works out, secure browsing on the internet will become the norm.
Some tips for internet surfers everywhere that can be implemented immediately:
- Ensure that you have the latest version of your browser by checking for updates on a regular basis.
- Ensure that you have all patches installed for your operating system by checking for updates on a regular basis.
- As a general rule, Mozilla Firefox is a more secure browser than Internet Explorer and it should be used as your primary web browser.
- While using Firefox, you should also use the NoScript plug-in to further enhance security.
- Employ a software and hardware firewall at all times.
If you would like to know more about computer security and protecting yourself online, consult my PC Techs.