Home > Uncategorized > Interview with Johan Borg, Opera's desktop team manager

Interview with Johan Borg, Opera's desktop team manager

December 18, 2006

With the release today of Opera 9.1, containing Fraud Protection, I had a chance to ask Johan Borg, the guy in charge of the Opera desktop browser, a few questions about the new browser. Johan often posts on the Desktop Team blog.

Daniel Goldman: There have been some privacy concerns that were raised by bloggers and users of both Opera and Firefox regarding fraud protection in web browsers. What steps is Opera taking to protect the user’s browsing privacy? Should users be concerned about their privacy?

Johan Borg: Opera is proud to have a large group of very privacy-concerned users, much thanks to our track record on security and privacy features like Delete private data.

We have listened to them and have decided to let the fraud protection be an opt-in feature in 9.1. We may change that later based on user demand, but in general we don’t like to receive any data from our users unless absolutely necessary.

We only check the fraud status the first time you go to a page on a new site, then we cache the information for the site for a number of hours. We need to send a hash (fingerprint) of the first URL you visit on the site, but we never send full URLs.

Users should definitely be concerned about their privacy on the Web today. The very reason we introduce Fraud protection is all the spoof sites that try to steal personal information by pretending to be from a trusted source. Be careful about whom you trust and NEVER give away your credit card information on an insecure site, look for the padlock icon in the address bar.

Daniel Goldman: What effect will the new fraud protection have on performance and speed?

Johan Borg: In reality: None. The data we send is so limited and we send it so infrequently, only the first page per site, that it should not matter, even over a mobile phone connection. In addition, the lookup is asynchronous in order to not slow down loading of the actual page.

Daniel Goldman: Many new fraudulent sites pop-up each day. How quick of a response will Opera have to these new sites in terms of flagging them as fraudulent?

Johan Borg: Opera will normally not flag fraudulent sites directly, that is done by the backend provider GeoTrust [and PhishTank] who has a long experience with real-time protection and quick updates. One of the reasons we chose real-time protection is that the lifespan for many of the fraud attacks is very short until the site is taken down by their ISP.

Daniel Goldman: Besides for fraud protection, what other important updates were made to the browser in version 9.1?

Johan Borg: The focus of 9.1 is on overall quality improvements, especially related to stability.

Daniel Goldman: What is your message to web developers who develop their sites without support for the Opera browser?

Johan Borg: First of all I would invite them to use Opera for a couple of weeks as their main browser. It’s very hard to not get hooked on the speed and flexibility and after that I’m sure they will fix their sites! Pretty soon they will also be able to try out a *really* cool browsing experience on the Nintendo Wii…

Then there are all the good reasons to code for Web Standards rather than specific browsers. I think a lot of developers would be surprised how well Opera works with their sites if they simply remove hard-coded tests for every browser name.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Joe User
    December 20, 2006 at 11:48 am

    I’m using opera now, but…

    From June 6 posting:

    >So the second part of this solution is a vibrant and positive community where users can help each other…

    Great for people with tons of free time on their hands.

    The real solution is to compete on a level like Mozilla did. Websites now almost always work with Firefox.

    Get people downloading your browser, get it in Linux distros, and the end user won’t have to read blogs to get it to work with Zillow, Yahoo sports, etc… I hope they think about this for Opera 9.2.

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