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AOL Unveils Free Security Monitor

AOL launches free security monitoring software in yet another attempt to coax users to hang onto their subscriptions to the giant ISP.
AOL Thursday launched free security monitoring software in yet another attempt to coax users to hang onto their subscriptions to the giant ISP.

Active Security Monitor tracks in-place anti-virus and spyware protection, looks for a firewall and wireless security, and verifies that Windows and the browser is up-to-date. It then generates a numeric score for each PC on the home network and makes recommendations to fix flaws.

"Most people don't have all of the core security protections they need and, worse, don't realize how vulnerable they are," said John McKinley, president of AOL's security group, in a statement. "Not having updated virus, spyware, and firewall protection is like locking your front door, but leaving your windows and back door wide open.

"Active Security Monitor regularly checks to ensure that all of the core protections are active and up to date."

The approach is similar to what Windows XP provides in its Security Center, or the control/status panel that security-specific vendors such as Symantec and McAfee include with their software suites.

The tool, which was created in conjunction with Jersey City, N.J.-based developer Sereniti Inc., can be downloaded from this Web site free of charge. Users don't have to be subscribers to AOL to download or run the software.

The utility is only the beginning of an AOL summer of security. According to stories by BusinessWeek and the Associated Press, AOL is working on a security suite to compete with Microsoft's Windows Live OneCare, McAfee's upcoming Falcon services, and Symantec's farther-in-the-future Norton 360.

Dubbed "Total Care," the subscription security service will enter beta testing in the next few weeks.

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