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Beta versions of Netscape security update available for free downloading.

Netscape Communications Corporation has announced that it has completed beta versions of the security update for its client and server software and has posted the new software for free downloading from the Internet. The beta versions of the software updates, posted following a review by internal and outside experts, are in response to the potential vulnerability in the company's security implementation discovered in September by two University of California, Berkeley students. In addition, Netscape is taking the opportunity to include other improvements with this update.

More Random information Ensures

Greater Security

Netscape addressed the potential vulnerability by increasing the amount of random information it uses to seed the random number generator in its security implementation. In Netscape's security approach, the random number generated is used in a mathematical formula to create a "session key'" for encrypting information to be sent across the Internet. The new solution uses much more random information than the previous version, ensuring much greater degrees of difficulty in identifying the key used to encrypt a particular session. The solution is also now assembled in a platform-dependent manner that, when combined with the increase in random information, makes Netscape's products substantially more secure than before the update.

Netscape's source code, which will be used to address the potential vulnerability, has been posted on the Internet so that it can be reviewed by anyone wishing to do so. This technique is often used in the development of security software to ensure the highest level of inspection possible before the final software is made available to customers. The code is also being reviewed by external security experts retained by Netscape and various Netscape platform partners who have expertise in specific operating system environments to provide additional checks on the soundness of Netscape's approach.

"We have always encouraged users to provide feedback on new versions of our software, and our posting of this security source code on the Internet is a natural extension of that approach," said Mike Homer, vice president of marketing at Netscape. "We plan to continue to use the Internet to test new software versions, as we will shortly do with the beta version of our newly announced Netscape Navigator 2.0. We expect that this kind of open review will help us continue to create products of the highest quality."

Additional Improvements

Netscape is using the opportunity of these beta releases to also update other portions of its software, addressing such issues as domain-name limitations in international versions of Netscape Navigator and potential stack overflow conditions. Netscape is also placing the beta versions of the security updates for its Netscape servers on the Internet for free download by customers.

"We process hundreds of customer orders daily using Netscape software. Netscape's commitment to excellence as evidenced by the company's immediate action in response to reported vulnerabilities is one of the many reasons Internet Shopping Network has chosen Netscape products for conducting Internet commerce," said Randy Adams, president of Internet Shopping Network. "We have built a multimillion dollar business on the Internet using Netscape products, and they are a major factor in our success."

The beta versions of the updated software - Netscape Navigator 1.2.lb for Windows, Netscape Navigator 1.1.lb for Macintosh and UNIX, Netscape Commerce Server 1.1.1b, and Netscape Proxy Server 1.2.lb - are available for downloading from Netscape's home page at http://home.netscape.com. All Netscape users are encouraged to download the new versions as soon as possible to ensure they are using the most up-to-date security software from Netscape. Final versions of the updates will be posted after all testing is complete.

Netscape Communications Corporation is a premier provider of open software to enable people and companies to exchange information and conduct commerce over the Internet and other global networks. The company was founded in April 1994 by James H. Clark, founder of Silicon Graphics Inc., and Marc Andreessen, creator of the NCSA Mosaic research prototype for the Internet.

For more information, contact Netscape Communications Corporation, Mountain View, CA 415/528-2555.
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Title Annotation:Netscape Communications Corp. updates its Netscape Naviagator 2.0 client and server software to be downloaded from Internet
Publication:Information Today
Date:Nov 1, 1995
Words:673
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