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Chapter 8, Configuring Netscape

(Note, May 19, 2001: In order to use the Netscape built in parental controls, you must not be using any version greater than 4.77. Version 6.x has no built in support for PICS filtering! If you are already using 6.x, our recommendation is to download 4.77, uninstall 6.x and install 4.77.)

This is a browser truly suited to the single AND multi-user environment. There are a few more steps to setting it up but that’s what this book is all about. Guiding the user step by step. If you don’t already have a copy of Netscape Communicator version 4.5 or higher, now is the time to get it. If you plan to shop online, I also recommend downloading the 128 bit strong encryption version for the best possible security when sending credit card information over the web. Because of restrictions imposed by the U.S. government limiting the export of this strong encryption technology, to download it you must fill out an online affidavit stating that you are a U.S. citizen and will not make the copy you download available for export.

Once you have it, install it. Netscape needs a user name for each user. Since none exist at this point Netscape will ask you to Create a New User Profile. Here is where you set up your own profile. It doesn’t matter which Windows Log-on you’re using at this point but for the sake of consistency use your Admin log-on.

If you are the only user to have a profile, Netscape will never require you to enter your user name or password to get in. It’s when you create more than one profile that Netscape asks you to log in each time, asking for a password if that’s how you configured it. We’ll get into setting up additional accounts a bit later. The Full Name field is for identifying yourself to recipients of your e-mail. This can be left blank if all you want recipients seeing is the e-mail address and not your real name. If you plan to use something other than Netscape for sending and receiving e-mail, like Outlook Express or Eudora as I do, these fields can be left blank altogether. Otherwise enter the e-mail account information from your ISP.

Profile name is important. This will be your log on name for Netscape and is a required field. Choose accordingly and do not alter the default directory in the field below.

Again, SMTP Server is only if you plan to use the Netscape e-mail client. This is defined for you by your ISP in the information they supply for hooking up with their service to gain e-mail and online access. If you use another e-mail client leave this field blank.

Ditto for the Mail Server User Name, Incoming Mail Server and News Server.

Clicking the Finish button will launch Netscape, but before you even connect to the Internet for the first time with the new browser, there’s a few more settings to decide on. Except for personal preferences in appearance, most of these settings can be left in their default state. Only those which effect security will be discussed here. Click Edit | Preferences…

Expand the Advanced settings and highlight Advanced. There are some pretty nasty viruses getting around via e-mail these days which effect computers with Microsoft Word 97 or Word 2000 installed on them which also use Microsoft Outlook Express for the e-mail client. If any vulnerability to such viruses does exist in Netscape, it can be headed off at the pass by disabling Javascript for Mail and News. Never EVER check the box for Send email address as anonymous FTP password. This goes back to what you read earlier in Chapter 2 about giving out your e-mail address without your knowledge. And I would Accept only cookies which get sent back to the originating server.

Smart Update is another thing that gives me the jitters. I’m still not comfortable giving an outside entity the ability to install software on my computer over the net, no matter how trusted, without at least asking my permission first. IF you decide to leave Smart Update enabled, ALWAYS force it to give you a Manual Confirmation. Give yourself the option of saying No. My preference is to disable this “feature” entirely. I have heard of no documented cases of this feature being abused but I believe the potential does exist. You may consider this to be a bit paranoid. If so that will probably continue, until someone proves me right. You heard it here first, folks. You have been forewarned.

Creating multiple user profiles

Now we need to add some additional users. Close Netscape. Click Start | Programs | Netscape Communicator | Utilities | User Profile Manager. Click the New… button and ad new users just as you added yourself for the Admin profile, one for each family member or student.

The browser launches each time you complete adding a new user. Edit the preferences for each new user according the guidelines above as all of them are independent of one another. The next phase is to set the passwords and viewable content.

Setting/changing user passwords

Netscape does this a little bit differently than MSIE. First, you must be connected to the Internet with Dial-up Networking through your ISP and using Netscape under the user profile name which you want restricted access enabled. Clicking Help | NetWatch takes you to a web site hosted by Netscape. Here the setting of content ratings is pretty straight forward.

You are a First Time User under the Netscape user name you’re currently using so click New User.

Netscape must now make changes to your computer via Javascript. As detailed in the message screen above, you must Grant this privilege to proceed. I would also check the “Remember this decision” box to keep from being pestered every step of the way through this process. Otherwise there about a half dozen other times you’ll have to grant permission.

Here is where it all comes together.

Setting/changing viewable content

Scroll down to set your preferences. RSACi defines only four filtering categories and only four levels for each category. Good, but not great.

SafeSurf, on the other hand, defines nine separate categories as well as an overall acceptable age level. If the content at a site exceeds any one of these rating levels the pages are blocked unless you are there to temporarily bypass the ratings for the remainder of that online session with your password. Clearly a better mechanism.

Now it’s time to select a password for yourself. Not the user. You. The system administrator. Probably best to use the same password as you selected for your Windows Log-on. The NetWatch ON radio button will already be highlighted but be sure to uncheck the “Allow users to see unrated sites” box, then Save Changes.

Repeat the steps for as many users as you created for Netscape. You do not have to log onto Windows under all the different log-on names to perform these changes, only close Netscape, restart and select the user profile name.

So let’s recap what we’ve done so far:

1) Multiple users each have their own Windows log-on enabling them to manage their own desktops and limiting their access to system functions of the computer.
2) Multiple users have been created for Netscape, and
3) Viewing privileges have been set for each Netscape user.

So what’s to prevent someone from using my Netscape user name to gain full browsing access? To this point, nothing. The final step is to enable user profile passwords, assign the passwords to each user, then disable passwords to prevent the users from changing their passwords. Even though you’ve disabled passwords, each user will still be required to enter previously set passwords to start Netscape. Set their Netscape passwords the same as their windows log-on.

Start Netscape under your admin user name. Connect to the Internet via Dial-up Networking and go to http://home.netscape.com/comprod/products/communicator/netwatch/setup.html. Enable user profile passwords, disconnect and close Netscape. Open User Profile Manager, highlight each user name and set each user password. Don’t forget to set your own here too. This password is different from the Windows Log-on or NewWatch rating password but should also be set the same value as the other two. Close User Profile Manager, go back tohttp://home.netscape.com/comprod/products/communicator/netwatch/setup.html and disable user profile passwords.

You’re done! Now, every time a family member starts Netscape they must select a user name from the list menu and enter their start-up password. Content viewed by that user name must conform to standards which you have set and they can not change it. You have complete control.

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