AOL has added a range of features to ward off computer viruses, intrusive spyware programs and spam to a special edition of its internet access software. Called AOL 9.0 Security Edition, the release is the first version of America Online to focus specifically on security. It is available as a free upgrade to existing AOL subscribers in the US from today. Versions for other countries may come later.
Along with enhanced editions of parental controls and browser pop-up blockers that come with basic membership, AOL has added anti-virus protection via McAfee VirusScan, simplified spam controls and new instant message spam protection to AOL 9.0 Security Edition.
Other additions include Money Alerts, a service that notifies consumers of unauthorised bank account or credit card activity. AOL's existing spyware protection has been enhanced with a SpyZapper feature that "automatically targets the most disruptive forms of spyware and other programs that may interfere with members' online experience". AOL 9.0 Security Edition also comes with McAfee Personal Firewall Express,
According to a recent study by AOL and the National Cyber Security Alliance, most consumers think they are safe from online security threats but lack basic protections against viruses, spyware, hackers, and other internet menaces. Nearly two-thirds of consumers (63 per cent) have been the victim of a virus infection in the past, and nearly one in five (19 per cent) has an active virus on their computer.
Rather than expecting home users to buy and install a variety of packages, AOL has bundled basic protection against various threats together as an easy to use package.
An AOL UK spokesman explained that some elements of this package - such as a free personal firewall and basic anti-virus protection - already come as standard to its members. More comprehensive anti-virus protection is delivered as a premium service in the UK, but "this may change as we review how to introduce new features, such as SpyZapper, here," he said. The components of AOL's access package vary by geography and are introduced at different times.
Common to all geographies is a desire by AOL to enhance to security protection it offers to its members, the spokesman told El Reg: "Security is a hot topic and AOL will be placing an emphasis on security in its product development over forthcoming months." ®