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Update Fixes Critical Flaw for AOL Users

America Online today released a free software update to plug what experts are calling a "critical" security flaw in software used by millions of people to surf the Web. The problem affects AOL version 8.0, AOL version 8.0+, and AOL version 9.0 Classic.

If you are running one of these versions, you should either download and apply AOL's hotfix, or upgrade to AOL 9.0 Optimized or AOL 9.0 Security Edition; both are available from this link here.

The flaw was found in the software versions listed above AOL You've Got Pictures, a photo-sharing service for AOL members. A "critical" security advisory over at FR-SIRT says attackers could exploit the problem to take over the computer of an AOL user who was tricked into visiting a specially crafted Web page.

I sure hope nothing comes along that exploits this flaw, but there's a good chance some hacker will try to take advantage of it. I'm also a little concerned that the average AOL user may not be accustomed to applying patches for their dial-up software. 

If you're using AOL and download the update, report how it goes in the comments section below.

Update, 12:06 p.m. ET, Jan. 17: AOL spokesperson Andrew Weinstein said the company was alerted to the problem by security researcher Richard M. Smith last year, and silently pushed a fix out to its user base. Weinstein said any AOL users who signed on to the service during a four-week period between October and November most likely received the update.

"The odds are good that if you use AOL more than once a month, you got the fix pushed to you," he said, though he added that users who are not sure whether they went online at all during that time should consider downloading the hotfix "for safety's sake."

By Brian Krebs  |  January 16, 2006; 5:25 PM ET
Categories:  New Patches  
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Or AOL wants to plant more spyware on your computer.

I personally can't stand it anymore. Everytime they "upgrade" it, it gets slower and slower.

I only keep it because the kids don't want to give up their email box names and they need a dial up sometimes at other people's houses.

Posted by: Brett | January 16, 2006 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Since the patches and upgrades listed are for AOL users on the WINDOWS platforms, I'm assuming MAC users may continue to use AOL without concern, safely encased in their UNIX based OS, wrapped warmly in their easy to use and intuitive COCOA interface...


Just once I'd like to feel the sickening thrill of wondering if my computer has been hijacked and made into a spam-spewing slave, or is whispering my activities back to a shyster website via spyware, or being mined for my credit card numbers by thieves in Romania...I guess that's the downside of a superior platform...

Posted by: Steve | January 17, 2006 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Steve -- You are correct. What I did not mention in this blog post is that this is essentially an (Microsoft) ActiveX problem.

Posted by: Bk | January 17, 2006 11:18 AM | Report abuse

This so called "security update" messed up my computer. It knocked off Mcafee anti-virus. I cannot get it off to reinstall it. AOL gives me all kinds of directions but nothing seems to work. They try to pass me to Mcafee direct...Mcafee says it's part of AOL package and they have to solve it. Getting pretty disgusted with AOL. Everytime they upgrade they cause a problem.

Posted by: sam | January 18, 2006 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I have used AOL for several years and was usually very pleased with their service including the McAfee Antivirus software...until along comes this AOL Safety and Security stuff. Now my whole home network is messed up....most of our four computers are having major problems. Thanks AOL...I will be sending you a thank you letter in the form of cancelling my service!

Posted by: Gary | January 18, 2006 11:47 PM | Report abuse

I also have three computers and this download screwed up all of them. I was able to delete the AOL virus protection from two and reinstall McAfee, but on one computer it screwed up the MacAfee so bad I can't do anything

Posted by: Bob | January 26, 2006 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Hugh Vanleer | March 18, 2006 10:50 AM | Report abuse

i need voice on my coputer or sound

Posted by: Hugh Vanleer | March 18, 2006 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I to have the aol safety and security, constantly a window is popping up ssc firewall
it states:
c:\winnt\system32\w?nword.exe is requesting access to the internet. I click on block access but the darn window constantly keeps coming back.
HOW DO I GET RID OF IT? It is driving me craxy

Posted by: Barb | March 25, 2006 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Barb, I'm having the same problems as you are.. The SSC firewall is driving me crazy as well. How do I get rid of it and yet continue protecting my computer from hackers?...Help please..

Posted by: Diana | April 4, 2006 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Aol requires FIX IT to correct a correction problem but when I tried it, again I received the message "Cannot display This Page>" That is the problem I am trying to fix .

Posted by: Louise | April 5, 2006 6:26 PM | Report abuse

I need Aol to find a cure in this AOL Safety and Security update. My computer is screwed up. "Error Loading C:|program, the specified module could not ne found", is not what I'm looking. I cant get this thing out of my computer. I tried system restore, add and remove unstaller and safe mode, I CAN'T TAKE IT OUT OF MY COMPUTER!!!

Posted by: Angry Dude | April 6, 2006 8:29 PM | Report abuse

God forbid...If you died today, were will you go. Yeshua died for are wrongness. How do we get saved. 1. Born Again 2. Born of Water 3. Born of Spirit. Hurry before it is to late!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 6, 2006 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Diana and Barb .. same constant pop up window and dozens at a time day in and day out! Can someone help us out to stop those SSC Firewall popups? Your help would be deeply appreciated. Thanks. JFR+

Posted by: Joseph in San Jose, CA | April 16, 2006 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Apparently AOL has now fixed the pop up problem and I'm not receiving them! Are Diana and Barb having the same AOL results?

Posted by: JFR+ | April 19, 2006 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Still getting the annoying SSC firewall popups. How do you fix it?

Posted by: DEM | April 26, 2006 10:35 AM | Report abuse

yes i hate that ssc firewall pop ups. how do you get it off or out of my computer?

Posted by: larry | April 29, 2006 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Why do this SSC firewall window keep poping up? HELP!!!

Posted by: VVHH | May 15, 2006 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I am having problems with SSC firewall windows keep poping up is anyone out there got any fixes for this and is this a AOL problem?

Posted by: Jim | May 20, 2006 5:30 PM | Report abuse

I get the ssc firewall popup all the time too. It doesn't seem to matter whether you close the window, allow access, or block access, it just goes away and comes right back in a couple of seconds. I like AOL and don't want to switch, but......

Posted by: JTB | May 25, 2006 3:40 PM | Report abuse

i having the same annoying problem with the ssc firewall, its driving me nuts. trying to play games and it interferes with my games.

Posted by: michael smith | May 26, 2006 8:48 PM | Report abuse

anyone have a fix for IS2008 which says you can't install the AOL SSC program. After orginally installing SSC says for update for computer check-up install a BETA program which aol sends you to the site. Installing this won't let you get into the orginal SSC program OR when you go to Keyword SAFETY you can't get in to see if you have any protection. 5 times with AOL TECH and all I get sent is you have a VIRUS....didn't have it before trying to update.. Answer: We have alot of users with the same problem recently! AOL where do you think the problem a virus or a problem downloading the new BETA PC check up program? Dah! You need to get a fix for problem. Also if you go to the Windows ICON and click the AOL SSC error code: 10 comes up ee://aol/SafetyShell

Posted by: mike | June 17, 2006 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Help - keep getting those SSC firewall popups - just since installing AOL 9.0 Security Edition. AOL says I have a virus - my AOL computer scan says none are detected!! What (there's another one!!) what do I do. I keep getting bland web pages and etc., etc., help us.

Posted by: Linda Sue Coffee | June 18, 2006 2:35 AM | Report abuse

I have AOL 9.0 Security addition and have had it for a while. All of a sudden I am getting these SSC firewall popups. How come?

Posted by: Jody | June 20, 2006 7:48 PM | Report abuse

AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH i cant get them to stop... it took me 35 minutes to write this post. I am getting attacked (3100 in the last hour) how do i stop these popups:

"A computer at address has attempted to access one of your system ports (Port 0)"

I don't even have a port 0 on my comp...

Posted by: Frogger | June 23, 2006 1:20 AM | Report abuse

I fixed it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! yay all you have to do is allow those IPs access, and you dont get any more... but they could be bad things getting in... oh well this comp is dead in a few months anyway.

Posted by: Frogger | June 23, 2006 1:52 AM | Report abuse

I have AOL online 9.0 security edition se, and 3 days ago I started to have the "SSC Firewall" popup appear, to the point of wanting to throw my computer out the window, which of course I did not do. I fixed the problem myself after I called AOL Tech Support, and waited for over 40 minutes to speak to a Tech Consultant, who gave me another 800 number to call for the AOL McAfee Tech support, than I waited for an addition 30 minutes and finally hung up. I decided to try and fix this annoyance myself and so far have been successful, we shall see. Here is what I did, first I got off line and then went into the Start menu, click Control Panel, then click add or remove programs, click on Aol uninstaller and then choose the catagory you wish to remove or change, in this case remove was the option, then I checked Aol Virus Protection, Aol spyware, Aol firewall and Aol Safety and Security to uninstall. I know that this leaves your computer vunerable, but, I had to try something. Then when all you have checked is uninstalled go back on line and go to AOL Safety and Security and download it again, if you are on dial up it takes about 75 minutes, but that is what I spent waiting on hold for a tech person.
I re-downloaded this Aol Safety and Security and so far so good, no SSC Firewall popup for 3 days now, lets see if it lasts. I hope so.
Hopes this helps another indiviual who is at their wits end.

Posted by: Nancy | June 23, 2006 10:24 PM | Report abuse

mike, any luck fixing that IS-2008 error?

Posted by: mark | June 30, 2006 11:33 PM | Report abuse

can't install computer check up.
i have icon on the bar but when i go to the page and hit launch, nothing happens.
went to remove programs but only safety center is there. do i have to unload then reload safety or is there a seperate install for computer check up. can anyone help me cause aol hasnt.

Posted by: john | July 29, 2006 1:42 PM | Report abuse

i have spywarequake,spywarefalco,spyware strike etc. aol spyware doent detect these trojans. is there a free spyware program out there that will do what aol can't.
its really meesing up everything. can anyone help me,please?

Posted by: john | July 29, 2006 1:47 PM | Report abuse

i'm the same guy who is having trouble with spyware and computer checkup listes above. if there is anyone out there that can help me please e-mail me a
thanks and best regards

Posted by: john | July 29, 2006 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Concerning the SSC Pop-ups...Open AOL security center, open your Firewall, change your mail window setting to med. or low, this will not compromise your protection, but should stop pop-ups. Let me know if it works for you.

Posted by: JMoore1256 | August 6, 2006 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I cant retreive my email from my company website. internet exployer does nothing.

Posted by: | August 10, 2006 10:04 PM | Report abuse

I gave up after uninstalling and reinstalling numerous times (yeah, the 75 min.dialup download).It still won't upgrade or even launch computer checkup.I uninstalled the AOL Explorer browser(a total waste of space),tried to get my McAfee back-which won't scan anymore unless I'm online or want to pay more $.I have been getting almost daily upgrades to McAfee from AOL,apparently.The SCC keeps doing scans and says evrything is fine-so does Spybot, but I'm not so sure.I've had AOL for years and never had any problems that couldn't be fixed.Sorry but I'll keep the Windows Firewall and Virus protection-I'm not replacing that with AOL's-remember the part where you have to remove these in order to use AOL's? Big mistake....

Posted by: CynthiaW. | August 11, 2006 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Im glad to know Im in good company. Im so stinkin sick of seeing this SSC firewall. I come home from work and its sitting on my screen w/20 attempts at accessing my various ports that I didnt know existed. I checked some of the IP addresses that are trying to access my ports and some of them are in England!! Good Grief! I cant live like this. I called tech support and he said I should have an option to not show the message again.....dont. He was nooooo help. He just basically blew me off and said go to mcafee's website b/c its their program. I said....sooooo you dont have training on a program that you administer?? That makes no sense to me. Im so stinking tired of this Browseropoloy that AOL has. Im thinking of seriously switching.

Posted by: Frustrated with SSC Firewall | August 12, 2006 6:58 AM | Report abuse

OMG, i am so glad to see that i am not alone. I agree with one commentor that AOL is no help. They also told me to call Mc afee. Hard to even write this note will all the ssc firewall pop ups i am getting. I feel my best chance of getting rid of this annoyance is by looking for an answer in here.

Posted by: Rick G. | August 14, 2006 4:54 AM | Report abuse

Hey JMoore 1254

I tried what you recommended. I went to the AOL safety and security center and clicked on the settings tab then reset my notification frequency from high to low. So far IT IS WORKING! Have had ten wonderful minutes without that annoying ssc firewall pop-up. I know it didnt fix the problem but at least i can surf in peace.

Posted by: Ricky G. | August 14, 2006 5:28 AM | Report abuse

FYI Ricky G.
Setting your firewall setting to "low" compromises the security of your computer greatly which is the only reason I have not done that. It leaves your computer vulnerable to attacks. If you start to experience slower connections and problems with programs it may be a sign that you need to up that firewall back to medium at the minimum. Otherwise my personal suggestion is to completely trash the security center and just install the individual components. When I had them installed individually before I had no such problems regarding the SSC Firewall.

Posted by: Frustrated with SSC Firewall | August 14, 2006 10:32 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: CHRIS M | August 28, 2006 5:08 PM | Report abuse

I thinkmthat apl should assume some responsibility for all these problems since it is an aol program that we have to pay for

Posted by: RVH | September 12, 2006 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I am getting SSC pop ups. on my Security Edition. Have tried with many of your TECHS but with no result. Isn't there anyone at AOL who could give instructions as to how to solve this problem? Each Help responses gives a different solution and non of them have worked!

Posted by: clare | September 17, 2006 9:30 AM | Report abuse

I have AOL 9.0 SE. When running a scan, the McAfee window pops up and says it has found a virus and recommends I run a scan. The aol scan finds no virus. AOL tech says to contact McAfee. McAfee says to go to their free scan site. I did the free scan and it found "couponbar" virus. Back to AOL tech.Aol tech said I had to contact McAfee, so I told them their advertising wasn't correct. Advertising says about AOL security that "you do nothing"! AOL tech hung up on me! Back to McAfee, I have to pay them to get rid of it! What do I do???

Posted by: Karen | September 21, 2006 12:41 AM | Report abuse

I installed the latest updates to AOL 9.0 recently. Norton was expiring on 1 Oct, so I was deciding whether to renew or go with AOL 9.0's Antivirus/Firewall, since I heard they were free. I tried to install AOL Antivirus and thought it was ok. Then I installed AOL problem (it prompted me to remove Norton, which I did). However, after restarting, my computer did not detect my AOL Antivirus. I clicked the "Retry AOL Safety and Security Center Installation" desktop icon. It gets to 100% on "Current Step", but then stays at 0% for "Total Progress", until I get an IS-2008 error code. I'll call AOL soon, but I thought posting here might get me a quicker response. Very frustrated...wishing I'd just renewed with Norton.

Posted by: Justin | September 21, 2006 11:47 AM | Report abuse

I to are receiving ssc pop ups,that a address is trying to access my service port,I have scan,and If do not show any problems, how do I get rid of this problem,It enterfers my me using aol,.

Posted by: Moore | September 29, 2006 8:34 AM | Report abuse

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