AOL quietly drops free-to-all AV offering

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Sep 11, 2007

Gratis software now for members only, old users may be at risk.

A month ago we reported on AOL's switch of providers for its free anti-virus software offering, from the Kaspersky-powered Active Virus Shield to a special version of McAfee's VirusScan. It now appears that the McAfee-based product is only available to AOL members, unlike the previous offering which only required an email address to subscribe, and also that users of the earlier product are being cut off from updates without warning.

The switch occurred with little fanfare or precise information at the start of August, and according to a SANS diarist several users of the Active Virus Shield product have complained of updates ceasing to work after the end of the month, with a similar lack of information or advice from AOL.

While it may be possible for users of Active Virus Shield to update directly from Kaspersky, anyone still running the software should consider switching to an alternative free or paid-for security product, to ensure ongoing protection.

UPDATE: Since the publication of this story, AOL have provided VB with clarification on both the changes to their free anti-virus offering and the issues experienced by their Active Virus Shield users. The McAfee product, which includes a firewall as well as malware protection, is in fact available to those who do not subscribe to AOL's services, requiring only an AOL screen name, which can be obtained for free as part of the sign-up process, here.

The problems with Active Virus Shield were in fact due to technical issues with the provision of updates, which have since been resolved. The product is no longer available for new users but there are no immediate plans to cease supporting existing installations. AOL hope to contact all existing users soon with details of how to switch to the new offering.

Posted on 11 September 2007 by Virus Bulletin

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