Netscape used to be THE browser, but has recently fallen on hard times. However it is still one of the more popular browsers around, and for the Linux crowd it’s pretty much the only viable browser available.

Since Netscape is not made by Microsoft it does not have any thing to do with ActiveX and that is one less worry, but it still has some issues that can be dealt with fairly easily. Let’s take a look at the options Netscape offers. Click Edit/Preferences and you will see a large number of categories. First lets take a look at the Advanced section.

Under Advanced there are a few things we want to do. First we want to uncheck the boxes next to Enable Java and Enable JavaScript. You will also see a box next to Send e-mail address as anonymous FTP password. Make sure that this is unchecked! This is important to make sure your e-mail address is not being sent out to anyone who wants it. OK, lets take a look at the cookie section. Netscape does not give you as many options as IE did. First, if you decide you want to use cookies, then choose Accept only cookies that get sent back to the originating server, or choose Disable cookies. Once again, I do not recommend the Warn me before accepting a cookie – it gets annoying very quickly, however, it’s up to you.

As discussed earlier, the same problems apply to Java, JavaScript and cookies in Netscape as in IE.

Under the Advanced section there are several options. Under the Cache section you can see information on your browser cache. Unfortunately, Netscape does not offer you the ability to automatically clear the cache, however you can clear both the disk and memory cache here manually. The next section to check out is the Smart Update section. Under this section you will want to uncheck the Enable Smart Update and check the Require Manual confirmation of each install. If you decide to use the Netscape Smart Update to update your version of Netscape you will need to check that box; when the update is complete, go back and uncheck it again.

Head over to the Navigator category and under the Smart Browsing section disable What’s Related. Apparently the What’s Related feature can allow users browsing habits to be tracked and it may be possible to tie specific users to the sites they visit. Exit out of the Preferences area.

Next, you will want to click on Communicator/Tools/Security Info.

Under the Navigator section you will see several options. I recommend making sure the following are checked under Show a Warning Before: entering an encrypted site, leaving an encrypted site, and viewing a page with an encrypted/unencrypted mix. The final option of sending unencrypted information to a site is a personal choice. Next take a look at Certificate to identify you to a web site and make sure Ask Every Time is selected. Finally make sure that both SSL 2 and 3 are checked.

Users of Netscape should bookmark the following page and visit it on a regular basis: You can use this site to keep up to date on possible security risks and other issues.

Now let’s take a look at how Netscape stores your cookies. You will find your cookies at C:\Program Files\Netscape\Users\your user name, in a file called cookies.txt. You can view and edit this file with you favorite text editor and remove any cookies you wish, or delete all of them. For Linux users you will find your cookies in your home directory under /.netscape. A nice way to get rid of cookies in Linux is to link them to /dev/null. You can do this by simply typing the following in the shell of your choice: ln -s /dev/null ~/.netscape/cookies.

Ok, if you’ve followed our advice you have made your browsing with Netscape much more secure.


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