PC Security Checks on Deck From AOL

AOL is about to get into the Internet security arms race with a new product that helps check the security health of users’ PCs, internetnews.com has learned.

Active Security Monitor will be a free downloadable program that will continuously check the security programs on a user’s computer, such as antivirus, firewall, spyware protection, wireless security, and Windows/browser updates, according to details obtained by internetnews.com.

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

A spokesperson for AOL refused to comment.

A score provided to the user will help 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 Active Security Monitor product, which is expected later this week, AOL is joining a crowded field of security providers, which just got even more crowded, thanks to Microsoft.

As previously reported by internetnews.com, Microsoft last week released Windows Live OncCare, 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 LiveCare package.

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.

The release of AOL’s Active Security Monitor follows a beta test that AOL has been running on the product. The beta site also explained that ASM provides the user with a security score, “similar in concept to a credit score, that measures your exposure to viruses, identity theft and network intrusion.”

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