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Tuesday, 4 January, 2000, 11:54 GMT
Millions face online shopping glitch
Millions of people may have trouble shopping online or checking their bank accounts, as security software on internet browsers expires.

Older versions of Netscape and Internet Explorer browsers contain security software which expired on 31 December, 1999.

Many users have found they cannot shop or bank online until they upgrade to a new browser.

The problem, estimated to effect upwards of ten million people across the world, was first reported in Sweden, where thousands of people have been unable to bank online.

Out-of-date security

Those affected are users of Netscape's Navigator and Communicator browsers 4.06 and older, as well as users of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 4.5 for Macintosh and older.

These browsers contain digital certificates, which authenticates users and encrypts electronic commerce transactions.

VeriSign, makers of this software, say the problem was anticipated and many similar certificates have an expiry date.

At this stage, the scale of the problem is unclear, although the solution is for users to download the newer versions of the browsers.

About 150,000 commerce and finance sites support the software.

Netscape estimates there are between five and ten million users who have not updated their browsers.

Swedish banks

About 100,000 Swedes have been unable to access their bank accounts over the internet.

"It is true that some of our internet clients could not access their accounts as they had an old version of Netscape that stopped working at the end of the year," Cajsa Renman, a spokeswoman at Swedish bank SEB, confirmed.

She added: "But only a few people were affected ... and for them it only means going into our homepage and getting an updated version and it will all work okay again."

Similar problems also struck customers of online banks in the UK, with the Egg web site carrying a full warning about the problem.

It also warned those downloading the new browsers that the process would be time-consuming, and may introduce additional features unwanted by customers.

See also:

29 Nov 99 | Business
01 Jan 00 | Business
02 Jan 00 | Business
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