RealTime IT News

AOL to Beef Up Security Offerings

As first reported by internetnews.com, AOL got into the Internet security arms race today with a new product, that helps check the security health of users' PCs.

And, according to published reports, the company will soon partner with McAfee and other security vendors to release a product package called Total Care. An AOL spokesperson refused to comment on this announcement.

Developed in partnership with Sereniti, Active Security Monitor is a free downloadable program that continuously checks the security programs on a user's computer, such as antivirus, firewall, spyware protection, wireless security, and Windows/browser updates, according to a statement.

The program is designed to check the user's PC then provide a Security Score and make recommendations to improve it.

A score provided to the user helps summarize the computer's risk from viruses, identity theft, and network intrusion, based on how well the security software is updated, for example.

Last year, AOL's own research, along with the National Cyber Security Alliance, found that 81 percent of home PCs in the U.S. lacked either updated computer virus software, spyware protection, or a secure firewall.

AOL's hope is that users will rely on Active Security Monitor to know when and what to update.

By releasing the security products, AOL is joining a crowded field of security providers.

Microsoft last week released Windows Live OneCare, its retail offering that competes with traditional security software providers.

OneCare offers antivirus protection, firewall, file backups, PC tune-ups and free support.

There's no built-in protection against spyware, but Microsoft's anti-spyware application, now named Windows Defender, is available as a separate free download. After installation it can easily be integrated with the OneCare package.

New AOL partner and security software firm McAfee has also announced a new application called Falcon, due out sometime this summer.

Symantec, makers of the popular Norton security software, plans to release a new security product codenamed "Voyager" later this year and Norton 360, its latest security improvements, in March 2007.