PayPal to block 'unsafe' browsersNew measure aims to tackle phishing sites

22 April 2008

A web browser screenshot

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Internet payment company PayPal is to block people accessing its site through ‘unsafe browsers’ as part of a clampdown on phishing.

Customers will first be warned that a web browser is unsafe but could then be blocked if they continue using it.

Phishing emails are fake emails which purport to be from a site such as eBay or PayPal, or your bank.

But links embedded within the emails direct you to fake a website which looks similar to the real thing.

Phishing sites

Modern browsers use 'Extended Validation SSL Certificates'. This technology highlights the address bar in green when users are on a site that has been deemed legitimate.

Older browsers don't have this technology, and PayPal said it was ‘alarming’ that some people were still using very old and vulnerable browsers, such as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 4 or Internet Explorer 3.

PayPal said letting users view its site on one of these browsers is ‘equal to a car manufacturer allowing drivers to buy one of their vehicles without seatbelts’.

The news initially sparked fears that people using Apple's Safari browser would also be blocked from using PayPal. The browser doesn't support Extended Validation SSL certificates.

Protection

However PayPal has since said that it has no plans to block current versions of any browsers from its website.

Which? Technology Editor Matthew Bath said: ‘While PayPal's move to block older browsers from using its digital payment system will inconvenience some online shoppers, it should help protect online consumers from virtual fraud.

‘Our advice is to check with the manufacturer's website for the browser you are using to see if a newer one is available. They are free to download, and offer improved protection against spam, phishing scams and other internet nasties.’