America Online, trying to protect its users from spyware that can steal personal data, said Wednesday it's upgrading its anti-spyware technology. The online service unveiled AOL Spyware Protection 2.0, software that continuously scans a PC to detect and block more than 28,000 types of spyware, adware, keystroke loggers, and Trojan horses.
The software is based on eTrust PestPatrol Anti-Spyware technology from Computer Associates, which also is offered by AOL's sister company, Time-Warner Cable, to users of its RoadRunner Internet access service. Both companies offer the anti-spyware software suite at no charge.
The software scans a PC every 60 seconds, looking for around 15,000 types of spyware/adware running silently in memory. The AOL SpyZapper feature conducts a scan every 15 minutes to look for programs attempting to download or reinstall themselves. On a daily basis, Automatic Quick Scan checks for four types of malware, including the keystroke loggers. And the software also conducts a weekly check for other types of spyware and malicious software.
AOL may have turned to CA for anti-spyware tools because its first choice, Aluria, was acquired by competitor EarthLink Inc. "AOL must put something in quickly, because spyware is the No. 1 issue for call centers in the Internet service provider market," Yankee Group analyst Andy Jaquith says. "Spyware is burning up AOL support lines, as customers wonder why machines are rebooting or they can't run their favorite programs."