UPDATE: MS, Netscape Battle Over Browser Bug

Netscape's Communicator browser includes JavaScript, a scripting language that enables Web authors to create interactive Web sites and is supported by script from Microsoft's rival browser Internet Explorer (IE). However, some IE scripts which are only meant to be accessed by the user are exposed to attack in the Communicator browser, a Microsoft official and an independent analyst confirmed today.

Microsoft said it is up to Netscape to protect the privacy of the scripts in Communicator, no matter where they originated from.

"The Microsoft Internet Explorer security model allows a Web site to run any script or program that it trusts," Scott Culp, a Microsoft security program manager, said today in a telephone interview. "The program exposes some fairly powerful functionality that allows a hostile Web site to glean information from a user's machine."

Netscape places the blame for the security hole firmly at Microsoft's door. "The problem is with Microsoft's Internet Explorer," Eric Krock, a Netscape group manager for tools and components, said today in a telephone interview. "It's only the installation and use of Internet Explorer that leaves the user vulnerable."

One security analyst agreed and said Microsoft should fix the bug itself. "Microsoft built the architecture that made it (the hole) possible," David Perry, a spokesman for antivirus software vendor Trend Micro, said in a telephone interview.

However, Microsoft said it is Netscape's responsibility to protect the script from attack. "The real problem is Netscape Communicator taking a powerful script and putting it out on your computer in a locale where any Web site can find it out and run it," Microsoft's Culp said.

No incidents of a breach of the hole have been reported as yet.

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Jack McCarthy

PC World
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