Deluge of Browser Security Issues Drives Mass Migration

Netcraft has observed a surge in popularity of the Lynx browser, particularly since the recent Pwn2Own competition, which was held at the CanSecWest conference in Vancouver last month. During the course of the competition, security researchers once again exposed fresh vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.

Financial institutions have noted that the Lynx browser is particularly suitable for online banking, as it supports the latest cryptographic ciphers used in ecommerce, and is immune to attacks via JavaScript, Flash and other multimedia content. Lynx's algorithms for dealing with such threats are so comprehensive, it is just as safe as if the multimedia content was not there.

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User Agent share at FNB Oki Koki

April Erste, Public Relations Manager at the First National Bank of Oki Koki, told Netcraft that users are migrating to Lynx because of its speed and advanced security features. She added: "Lynx has not once suffered a buffer overflow in its image processing, and indeed has suffered no security vulnerabilities at all in the last 2 years." By comparison, the most recent Firefox security update was only 4 days ago.

The bank also notes that Telnet remains popular with a small group of its customers. Although it lacks the sophisticated user interface of Lynx, many security experts argue that Telnet is significantly more secure and has the largest installed base of any browser.

Erste said that while the bank is dedicated to providing an accessible online banking experience, some customers still report difficulties when trying to make HTTPS requests through Telnet without the aid of an extended keyboard layout.

Telnet online banking
A customer navigates the bank's online portal using Telnet

One factor that has held back wider adoption of Lynx is its lack of protection against phishing. As with other web browsers, it can be difficult to tell a genuine bank website from a well-constructed lookalike. To bolster Lynx's growing footprint in the browser market, Netcraft has released the Netcraft Toolbar for Lynx. This free add-on blends in at the top of every web page, and not only protects Lynx users against phishing attacks, but the beautiful text-based rendition of the Netcraft logo is sure to brighten anyone's day.

Netcraft Toolbar for Lynx