2010-10-05

My Letter to Bellco CU Online Banking

As you may have noticed, Internet Explorer, the favored browser for the Bellco Online Experience has recently fallen below 50% usage. That means more people are using better, more standards compliant browsers. Here are a few examples:

  • Firefox: your site still says "requires Netscape 4.7 or greater". Really guys? 1996 called, it wants its verbage back
  • Chrome: in case you haven't been paying attention, Chrome is a browser made by Google. Yes, they are the search people
  • Safari: does anyone over there use Macs? You know IE doesn't run on Macs, right?
  • Opera: ok, not many people use Opera. But it is one of the most standards compliant browsers available

Recently your Flash-based login widget has stopped working in my browser of choice, Chrome. It does still work in Firefox, so I can switch browsers and get in to view my banking information with a little bit of irritation rather than full on rage. I'll be honest here. I hate Flash. As a web developer, I think the closed, proprietary practices of Adobe are ruining the web. Many sites use Flash for bling (I almost said "flash", HA!) when they could have utilized some CSS and/or Javascript.

As mentioned above, your Flash login widget is not compatible with some browsers. This is not a standards compliant practice and will end up alienating more and more of your users. Is this widget which requires users to install and use a third-party application on their systems really necessary? I took twenty seconds out from my day to check out other online banking login widgets by Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Both of them use a standard HTML form. Do you think they are less secure without Flash?

Finally, let's talk about password strength. Your flash widget only allows 10 characters. This seems weak and unprofessional for a financial institution. Longer passwords are better (short story: they take longer to crack). Why not allow 30 characters? My password is currently 12 characters long and I cringe every time I notice the last two characters getting typed off into Adobe Flash Hyperspace when logging into your site.

Please consider using modern web standards when building your web sites. Please stop using Flash. Please allow longer passwords for better security.

Thank you,
Charles Bland (Web developer, DBA, loyal Bellco customer)

Update: from the Bellco login help page: "To find your Internet browser version, click on the Help tab at the top of your browser page. Click on About Internet Explorer from the drop-down menu. The version number will display in the small box that opens. You must be using Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher or Netscape version 4.7 or higher to be compatible with the security on our website."

So.... I click "About Internet Explorer" and that is where it tells me what Netscape version I'm using?
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