Netscape For Linux Gets E-Commerce Security Boost

Power PC open-source software solutions provider LinuxPPC, Inc. has released an update to its version of the Netscape Web browser for Linux that focuses on security issues vital to conducting e-commerce transactions.

LinuxPPC has updated its Netscape Communicator 4.7 browser package with 128-bit encryption technology. Due to export restrictions, however, the software will only be made available for download by U.S. and Canadian citizens. An Internet download currently qualifies as an export.

According to Netscape, encryption bit count refers to the strength and possibility of the technology. Encryption strength of 56-bit means that “there are billions of possible keys to decipher the coded information, and only one of them works.” With 128-bit encryption, however, “there are 4.7 billion trillion times as many keys as with 56-bit encryption.”

Additionally, the updated Web browser will ship with the LinuxPPC 1999 Q3 distribution, which also includes the company’s own graphical installer and the Red Hat installer, along with an Apache Web server, the Applixware office suite, BootX, the Comanche GUI (graphical user interface) Apache configuration tool, GNOME, KDE and WindowMaker.

Netscape Boosts Its Own Crypto

Netscape Communications recently launched an initiative of its own to bring a higher level of security to e-commerce patrons using its Web browser.

Users of version 4.61 of Netscape Communicator can access the SmartUpdate service in order to obtain an upgrade from international-grade encryption (56-bit) to U.S.-grade encryption (128-bit), dramatically increasing the safety of e-commerce and enabling online banking and bill-paying activities.

“By providing this easy to install security upgrade for Netscape Communicator, Netscape is helping to grow e-commerce and accelerate the use and acceptance of online shopping, banking and trading,” stated Bob Lisbonne, senior vice president of client products at Netscape. “This makes it easier than ever for Netscape Communicator users to enjoy a higher level of online security and ultimately increases our customers’ confidence in e-commerce.”

Securing International E-Commerce Penguins

Fortify, Inc. also recently updated security capabilities of the Netscape Communicator browser for Linux, making current export-grade encryption available for international users. Where LinuxPPC provides an entire browser package, Fortify makes upgrades available for download from its Web site.

For U.S. and Canadian users, Fortify also offers both 128-bit crypto and 1,024-bit RSA signature key capability.

U.S. Easing Crypto Control

The Clinton administration recently proposed an initiative to relax export controls for encryption technology, a move that was met with enthusiasm from the high-tech sector. More recently, Undersecretary of Commerce William Reinsch said in a Reuters interview that the U.S. is moving to approve the lifting of export controls on the encryption source code.

The move is reportedly a response to complaints by the Linux and open-source community, who must alter software packages that are bound for non-U.S. markets. Cryptography — derived from the Greek “kryptos,” meaning hidden, and “graphia,” for writing — is a means to scramble data by utilizing mathematical algorithms.

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