AOL Releases Standalone Security App

In an effort to better protect its members from the ever-increasing tide of worms, viruses, spyware and other security risks, AOL on Friday rolled out a standalone application called Safety and Security Center. The tool fills the gaps in Windows with antivirus, anti-spyware, and firewall protection.

AOL has tapped McAfee to provide the virus scanning engine and firewall, which is designed to protect both dial-up and broadband Internet users. AOL Spyware Protection 2.0, meanwhile, utilizes Computer Associate's PestPatrol technology to remove over 28,000 different spyware and malware programs.

Employing the same feature found in AOL Explorer and Netscape, Safety and Security Center boasts phishing protection that blocks access to questionable Web sites. AOL works with a number of partners to keep an updated list of known phishing URLs and also collections reports of suspicious activity from users.

Parental controls are also included that allow parents to prohibit their children from accessing certain Web sites. Parents can set an online timer and track the Web usage of their kids using the AOL Guardian "report card."

Like Microsoft's own Security Center in Windows XP SP2, AOL Safety and Security Center features a unified console that displays information of the AOL software on their computer. Along with the aforementioned tools, the console highlights the status of spam protection and pop-up controls as well.

"A broadband connection is basically an open pipe to the Internet, which means that high speed users are particularly vulnerable to thousands of new viruses and spyware threats as they emerge," said Joe Redling, President of AOL's Access Business. "That's why it's so important for our members to have safeguards."

Although AOL Safety and Security Center is a standalone application, it is currently only available to paying AOL subscribers. However, with the company's recent push to embrace the open Web, it is possible the service could be extended to all Internet users in the near future.

AOL members running version 8.0 or higher can download the free software by visiting AOL Keyword: Safety or via Current parental controls and security settings will be imported from the AOL client into Safety and Security Center, the company says.

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