Following on from the RSA security conference the other week, where PayPal published a paper which included comment from chief information security officer Michael Barrett that suggested 'unsafe' web browsers would be banned, the eBay owned payments company has now appeared to backtrack somewhat. Online media channels, and in particular the blogosphere, have been vibrating madly with comment on the potential for the browser ban. Which is not altogether surprising when you consider that in the paper Mr Barrett not only said that it is "critical to warn users about unsafe browsers" but also to "disallow older and insecure browsers" and went as far as claiming that "letting users view the PayPal site on one of these browsers is equal to a car manufacturer allowing drivers to buy one of their vehicles without seatbelts."
One of the reasons for the media furore was the inevitable Apple connection. You see the paper made it clear that in order for browsers to be considered safe by PayPal then they would have to be able to block known and/or suspected phishing sites as well as having support for extended validation certificates. You can usually tell those browser clients which implement the extended validation certificates as they include some kind of colour coded phishing toolbar as a visible guide to site security. The sort of toolbar you will find, or will soon find, within the latest versions of Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, but which is noticeably absent from Safari.
It is not the first time that PayPal has warned users about Apple Safari. Back at the end of February Barrett is reported as stating in an interview that "Apple, unfortunately, is lagging behind what they need to do to protect their customers. Our recommendation at this point, to our customers, is use Internet Explorer 7 or 8 when it comes out or Firefox 2 or Firefox 3, or indeed Opera."
But this all might have changed within the course of just a few days, as a PayPal spokeswomen is quoted as saying within an email that "We have absolutely no intention of blocking current versions of any browsers, including Apple's Safari, from our website."
Just why, for what reason, the change of heart is not made clear. So I guess we will just have to wait a few days for further clarification from PayPal as the new comments are analysed by the bloggers and news reporters alike.