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Chip Design Authors: Jnan Dash, Jason Bloomberg, Trevor Bradley, David Strom

Article

Opera V8 Beta Browser, Like Firefox 1.0.1, Tackles Phishing and Spoofing

Anti-spoof Measures Help Users Make Educated Decisions About a Site's Validity and Security

"One of the most important measures to counter phishing attacks is the use of security certificates," said Christen Krogh, Opera Software's Vice President of Engineering, last week as Opera released the second Beta version of its next browser, which includes an answer to the recent security debate over Web site spoofing.

In this beta, the browser displays security information inside the address bar, located next to the padlock icon that indicates the level of security present on a site.

The small, yellow security bar appears on secure sites and displays the name of the organization that owns the certificate. By clicking on the bar the user has access to more information about the validity of the certificate. These anti-spoof measures help users make educated decisions about a site's validity and security.

"The challenge for browser vendors is to better explain the verification of certificates and to make the user more aware of this additional verification before entering into secure transactions," said Krogh.

To address Internationalized Domain Names (IDN) concerns, Opera's second Beta only displays localized domain names from certain top level domains (TLD). Opera selects TLDs that have established strict policies on the domain names they allow to be registered. This ensures that users who depend on IDN, for example when accessing sites under .jp or .kr, will have a favorable user experience.

Opera will regularly update its list of trusted TLDs, ensuring maximum protection and the best possible user experience.

Opera stands behind its statement made to Beta News on Feb. 18, 2005, asserting that the IDN problem is not one that can be solved alone, but rather together with other browser vendors, domain name registries, certificate authorities and other members of the Internet community. Opera has taken the initiative to assemble a group to evaluate joint solutions.

Beta 2 is available for download at http://www.opera.com/download/.

Users must be aware that a beta should be used for preview purposes only, as it is not a final product and does not contain all the features that are expected with the final release.

More Stories By Security News Desk

SYS-CON's Security News desk trawls the world of security for news of software, hardware, products, and services that seems likely to be of interest to infosec professionals and summarizes them for easy assimilation by busy IT managers and staff.

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Most Recent Comments
suso 03/01/05 06:13:20 AM EST

Has anyone seen alternate character domains? I have been wondering when I would start to see these alternate character set domain names that you can get now play a role in this. You know, like someone registers cnn.com, but the c is not the latin character set c but one from another character set. Or something that almost looks like a c.

Then, without even hacking DNS, you can simply make someone or a group of people think that they are on cnn.com when they are really not. This could be used for things like fake news reports, etc. that make people panic.

Has anyone seen anything like this yet?

TomServo 03/01/05 06:11:15 AM EST

I got a couple of Washington Mutual phishes that a URL like http://www.wamu.com/chooseyourstate.asp?redirect=h ttp://some.ip.address/~username/.wamu/index.html, so the initial link actually did go to the right site. Probably sneaky enough to lure in my parents, unfortunately.

Oh, and no, I haven't verified even the Washington Mutual part of the URL.

More 03/01/05 04:50:00 AM EST

And their CTO Hakon Lie says MS has invalid webpages, and highlights MS's unwillingness to serve the same content to different browsers, IE's poor CSS support, tardy documentation and limitations of their XML format as evidence that MS's commitment to interoperablity is B/S.

cyberformer 03/01/05 04:46:31 AM EST

According to Opera's CEO, some MS sites are deliberately serving broken HTML if the browser identifies itself as Opera. When Opera tells the site it's IE (or Firefox, or anything else), the sites work fine.

Phishing Horrors 03/01/05 04:36:09 AM EST

In December, the Danish security firm Secunia documented a case where a phisher somehow modified a windows host file so that when you type in the correct url in the address, it redirects you to the phisher site.

InfoPoint 03/01/05 04:34:48 AM EST

In other news, Netscape is building Netscape 8 which will include several anti-phishing enhancements and will emphasize security.

MS lagging 03/01/05 04:33:16 AM EST

What the IE response???

Spoofer 02/26/05 08:04:46 AM EST

You can alreday make misleading third level domains under your own domain name, there's no need to spoof anything. It's already possible to set up paypal.mydomain.com without having to resort to obscure character sets.

quezztion 02/26/05 08:02:36 AM EST

Did opera decide nobody in .cn would ever build a paypal lookalike with a domain that looked like "paypal"?