America Online Inc. on Wednesday announced ASP (AOL Spyware Protection) 2.0, which uses Computer Associates International Inc.s eTrust PestPatrol Anti-Spyware technology to scan AOL users systems for 28,000 different kinds of spyware.
Pest Patrol will allow AOL to scan its customers systems more frequently for spyware—as frequently as once a minute—and give CA a new base of 20 million AOL users, the companies said.
AOL members who use AOL 9.0 and AOL 8.0 and above who downloaded the ASP software will automatically receive the update when they sign in.
Customers can also obtain it from AOL using the keyword: Spyware, AOL said.
AOL first introduced anti-spyware features in May 2004 using technology from Aluria Software of Orlando, Fla., as well as an internally developed anti-spyware tool called SpyZapper, said Andrew Weinstein, a company spokesman.
AOL decided to change to CA because the PestPatrol database was much larger, enabling AOL to use SpyZapper spot more variants of spyware than the "handful" it detected previously.
The PestPatrol anti-spyware technology can also scan systems more often and more quickly, allowing AOL to add minute-by-minute scans that look for spyware that is running in the computers memory, as well as daily scans of AOL customer computers.
Weekly "full drive scans" that used to take "a couple hours" take minutes with PestPatrol, he said.
AOL members cite spyware as a top concern. AOL blocks and deletes millions of spyware programs from its customers computers every day, Weinstein said.
AOL chose PestPatrol, in part, for its large database of spyware applications, but the company plans on letting its users decide what spyware is and what isnt, Weinstein said.
For example, when Aluria stopped detecting adware from WhenU, AOL insisted that the company restore detection for the companys software, because close to 95 percent of AOL users removed the products when they were found, Weinstein said.
Computer Associates has also attracted criticism, after the company temporarily stopped detecting programs from Claria.
Weinstein said that AOL will have the ability to add or remove programs from CAs spyware definitions for AOL, which will not affect CAs other customers.
"The number one source of feedback we get regarding what is spyware is our members," Weinstein said. "We want to keep that as the key decision point on what is spyware."
A CA spokesperson acknowledged that AOL requested the ability to add or remove definitions and cleaning instructions from the CA spyware knowledgebase to make sure that new and emerging threats can be added at AOLs discretion.
AOL will be expanding its "honeynet," a network of computers that attract and capture spyware samples which PestPatrol uses to create antispyware signatures, said Sam Curry, vice president of eTrust Security Management at CA.
CA will also use AOLs 20 million members to add to the spyware knowledgebase in the future, the CA spokeswoman said.
The company hopes that its new relationship with AOL will help establish common ground on what is and isnt spyware, Curry said.
"One problem is that theres a real lack of standards. Two different (anti-spyware) applications can give you wildly different numbers," Curry said.
Both AOL and CA are members of the Anti-Spyware Coalition, an industry group sponsored by the Center for Democracy and Technology.
"Hopefully some good will come of that, as well," he said.