Close, but no cigar...Jack Schofield on browsers, phishing and security

 by Martin Belam, 8 July 2004

In today's Inside IT article Jack Schofield had my heart soaring when in answer to worries about increased phishing attacks on Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser (notably Download.Ject) he said:

It's always handy to have an alternative browser, and I frequently recommend Mozilla Firefox (

Unfortunately he then blotted his copybook with the very next sentence:

Regrettably, many of the sites where security is important, such as banking sites, will only work properly with IE.

Perhaps instead of implying that IE does banking "properly" he could have said that many banking sites are coded in such a way as to only work with IE. My favourite notable exception being the Co-Operative Bank, which manages to be not only ethical, but cross-browser compliant.


ING Direct, the Halifax and Intelligent Finance have always worked fine for me in any browser I throw at them.

However I abandoned the Royal Bank of Scotland when they insisted I download some Windows application to make their banking run. Funnily enough I use Linux at home.

I mainly gave up on the abbey national internet banking website because it was so user unfriendly. Now I won't even think about trying online banking with anyone because I don't trust it's safe.

On the other hand, I'm happy to plug my credit card details into nearly any site that will take them.

PS - That's not an offer...

I've used all manner of banking websites (including the above, Smile and Accucard) and never had a safety problem. Just go to the correct URL via the main bank website and you'll be fine.

The Nationwide online banking site works fine in any browser. In fact, I highly recommend the service. Not only have they continually improved the interface to make it more simple and less graphical (there's hardly any images), but you can now transfer money between your own accounts instantly (no clearing), pay bills and set up standing orders.

The only thing that doesn't work on Mozilla Firefox is a javascript dialog box which appears when you log off promting you to restart the browser. However, as this is probably only designed to avoid security holes in ie, I'm not bothered that it doesn't work in Mozilla.

I wouldn't normally bother but ... I would have thought it was perfectly obvious that I meant the second thing (they have not been coded right) not the first thing. In fact, you have attributed to me a thought that doesn't seem to me to be the conventional interpretation of what I wrote. It's also a thought I never had, and certainly didn't mean. In fact, I think it's a bizarre idea.

I think I deserve blame when I get things wrong but here it seems to me that your misreading is at least as wrong as my original expression, and probably moreso ;-)

Hmm maybe so - at least you get a right to reply though. Perhaps I need to employ my own "Reader's Editor" to offer corrections and clarifications :-)

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