January 31, 2005 6:25 PM PST

Netscape readies antiphishing browser

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Netscape next month is expected to release a test version of a Web browser designed to resist phishing schemes, taking aim at recent security vulnerabilities in Microsoft's Web browser.

Netscape, a unit of Time Warner subsidiary America Online, has been recharging its browser activity in recent months, prodded by the success of its open-source spin-off, the Mozilla Foundation, and by the prospects of increased revenue through browser-based search queries.

On Feb. 17, Netscape is expected to release both the second test, or "beta," version of Netscape 8 and a redesigned Netscape.com portal site.

Netscape--founded 10 years ago by the creators of the pioneering Mosaic browser--once ruled the roost of the browser world with better than 80 percent of the market. But Microsoft's Internet Explorer wrested the market away and now enjoys better than 90 percent usage worldwide, according to most surveys.

The advent of Mozilla's Firefox browser, which has seen more than 20 million downloads since its November launch, has pushed IE's numbers down incrementally but steadily in the past several months.

The spectacle of IE's vulnerability--particularly on security issues--has encouraged Netscape and other browsing software makers to make security their main selling point.

For example, Netscape is in negotiations with various security companies to supply the Netscape 8 beta with frequently updated blacklists of Web sites that are suspected of purveying spyware, phishing schemes and other hostile code. When someone accesses such a site using Netscape 8, the browser would flash warnings to the user and disable various technologies with security implications, including ActiveX, scripting and cookies.

Sites thought to be harmless would join a white list and gain a green-light icon in the address bar. Unknown sites would be coded yellow.

In phishing schemes, fraudsters lure victims to Web sites faked to look like they belong to trusted providers such as banks. They then attempt to persuade the victims to hand over sensitive personal information such as credit card numbers.

Netscape, which is outsourcing browser development work to Canadian development firm Mercurial Communications after slashing its own in-house developer staff, would not be the first to offer such antiphishing features. Deepnet Explorer--a browser shell that relies on the Internet Explorer engine--last month launched its own antiphishing browser.

But Netscape's antiphishing feature would differentiate it from both IE and from Firefox, with which the company will increasingly have to contend in its battle for new market share.

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Netscape claims to be the No. 2 browser company--after Microsoft--but sources close to the company say that Firefox is gaining "really fast."

"Firefox is moving the needle," said one source close to Netscape who asked not to be named. "They are gaining very rapidly."

Netscape confirmed that it would release the browser and portal betas Feb. 17, but otherwise declined to comment.

With IE commanding such a huge share of the market, Microsoft clearly has the most to lose in the new battle of the browsers. But Firefox and Netscape also will have to compete against each other for crucial markets as corporate customers and consumer contemplate their options.

Firefox has targeted its next release--Version 1.1--at the enterprise sector, but that release is now set to launch three months later than expected.

Mozilla has set its sights on gaining bundling deals with computer manufacturers this year, a crucial element of Microsoft's original winning strategy for IE. Sources say that AOL has not ruled out making a play for bundling deals as well.

In November, Netscape released the first test, or "alpha," version of its new browser based on Mozilla's Firefox software. Among the surprises in the preview of Netscape 8 was the option of viewing pages in Mozilla's Gecko rendering engine or in IE's engine if the page doesn't render properly in Firefox.

In addition to providing the antiphishing alerts, the new beta will let surfers add RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds to their browser with a single mouse click, and will simplify the process of designating a set of tabs as their home page.

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Netscape is NOT #2 (Firefox is!)
> Netscape claims to be the No. 2 browser company

I thought that most tracker sites agreed that Mozilla's Firefox was by FAR the 2nd most used browser. This article seems to be trying to CREATE news by pretending Netscape isn't dead. Unfortunately, this poor "journalism" will lead some readers to use an inferior browser.

Firefox / Netscape 6+
---------------------
19.2% / 1.1%
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp" target="_newWindow">http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp</a>

4% / 2.83% (incl N6+ AND "other" Mozilla browsers!)
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.websidestory.com/pressroom/pressreleases.html?id=238" target="_newWindow">http://www.websidestory.com/pressroom/pressreleases.html?id=238</a>

If you are interested in a secure and prperly developed browser, avoide Netscape and use firefox:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.getfirefox.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.getfirefox.com/</a>
Posted by Peter Reaper (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dude, chill out!
Hey, if this version of Netscape can convert a few people from Microsoft's Internet $hitplorer, then great!

The main goal is to torture Microsoft... right? :D

And yes, Firefox is the best, but the last version of Netscape (7.2) is still years ahead of Internet Explorer - it has tabbed browsing and a lot of other features that IE doesn't have because Microsoft stopped developing once IE made it to 95% market share.
Posted by ivand67 (40 comments )
Link Flag
netscrap.
is bloatware.
Posted by lewissalem (167 comments )
Reply Link Flag
New Netscape
I remember using Netscape 1.0 and used newer versions for years UNTIL the popup windows, the embedded installation of Real_____ &#38; embedded Messenger became too much. This was a Real turnoff, especially when we didn't seem to have the choice during installation to NOT install these extras with Netscape (some items were grayed-out; unable to uncheck). Anything involving Real just trashes the registry. Have you ever uninstalled a Real app, then looked at the registry? It's a mess and inexcusable.

I also recall increasingly difficult times during subsequent installations. After clicking through numerous installation prompts for 15 minutes, a file would be corrupt causing it to abort. Or having to make several attempts to download a "complete" clean version (the installation package became too big to download on a dialup).

Since we're on the Netscape subject, maybe they'll revamp their website's navigation, too! It has been very difficult, even today, to find a particular download on their website.

Netscape became bloated and bogged down, so I switched to Mozilla and have used it ever since. If Netscape wants to overhaul the browser and make it run more efficient (and safer), more power to them. But don't force the "extras" down our throats. If we already have AIM, don't make us install it AGAIN with the browser (and don't leave pieces of AIM in Netscape when we said NOT to install it!). And please, do something about all the popup windows. If it's cleaned up and doesn't bog down PC resources, I might try a new version. Good Luck Netscape!
Posted by aglennon (10 comments )
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