The message coming from America Online could not be any clearer: "We will keep our customers safe online." Even though the market is awash with security software, AOL has stepped in for its members and delivered a fortified version of AOL 9.0, dubbed "Security Edition," that secures the perimeter around its flagship client software.
Customers who download AOL 9.0 Security Edition will receive antivirus software and a firewall from McAfee, spyware detection, a pop-up blocker and a host of other amenities at no additional charge. AOL has also worked under the hood on an assortment of improvements that advance the quality of its service.
Code-named "Strauss," the release is designed to meet AOLs self-imposed checklist of safe online consumer needs which includes: a firewall, on- and off-line antivirus and spyware detection, parental controls, pop-up blocking, as well as protection from Spam and SpIM.
In a sit down interview, an AOL spokesperson explained the rationale behind the release by citing a National Cyber Security Alliance in-home study which concluded that 80 percent of home computers contain spyware. The study also concluded that while many users believe they are safe from online threats, more than two-thirds did not have current virus protection software.
After deciding to step in to protect its subscribers, AOL extended some safety features to work offline. Software such as McAfee VirusScan Online, Personal Firewall Express and AOL SpyZapper are full-fledged retail quality applications that continually monitor the computing environment for vulnerabilities. The system is configured to keep up to date with automatic updates and schedules weekly spyware scans. Upgrades to McAfee software will be distributed through AOLs client software at the end of AOL sessions.
Scans include protection against viruses embedded in JPEG images.