On the heels of a report detailing the insecure nature of always-on
broadband connections, America Online
on Monday announced a
slew of new security and privacy features in its upcoming AOL 9.0 release.
As rival high-speed ISP services offer discounted packages of bundled services, AOL kicked off a
marketing campaign with details of its broadband security integration —
anti-virus tools, a customized firewall, spam-filtering and a new e-mail
attachment scanning feature.
With the commercial launch of AOL 9.0 expected in late summer, AOL is
making its move to differentiate itself from rival high-speed access
providers. “The broadband world is full of wonderful things, but — just
like the offline world — it can also be dangerous,” AOL for Broadband
President Lisa Hook said in a statement.
The new service arrives at a time when hacker attacks and worm alerts are on the increase and as AOL looks for an advantage in its quest to keep a lid on customer defections and snag
new subscribers for its high-speed offerings.
But the new service comes with an added price. In addition to the monthly broadband fee of $35 to $55, the company will now charge an extra $2.95
per month for access to the security tools and features in AOL 9.0.
AOL’s mission is to convince the broadband market that the $2.95 a month
extra for anti-virus and anti-spam tools is a bargain.
The security tools in AOL 9.0 include:
McAfee unit, AOL Broadband subscribers will get a free
customized firewall. The Personal Firewall Express promises protection
against hackers and unauthorized intruders. Firewall options would allow
users to block access to sensitive files, financial records and personal
data and create records of intrusion attempts.
scans all e-mail attachments to detect viruses and fix or block infected
attachments before they reach a subscriber’s inbox. While the automatic
scanning is free, AOL is also marketing a premium integrated service with
McAfee Security to block infection from P2P file sharing, Web site
downloads, infected CD-ROMs and disks and other multi-media files.
anti-spam filters, the company is adding adaptive spam filtering — that
learns and adapts to the type of e-mail that each individual member
considers spam. AOL Mail will come with a new spam folder to automatically
route and separate unsolicited mail and a new feature for word-specific and
The new tools also promise to block images and URLs from unknown senders
and control instant messaging spam (SpIM) with an IM Catcher feature that
lets members decide if and when they want to view the messages or ignore
them all together. Parental controls and other Access Control tools have
also been upgraded, the company said.
The campaign comes just a week after a study from the National Cyber
Security Alliance showed that the vast majority of basic always-on broadband
households do not have the necessary protections against intrusion.
The NCSA study showed that two-thirds of all broadband households lacked
properly configured firewalls; 62 percent did not have recently-updated
anti-virus protection; and a whopping 97 percent of broadband households
with children did not use parental controls.