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AOL's Free Anti-Virus Switcheroo

A number of AOL users who have taken advantage of the free "Active Virus Shield" anti-virus offer from Kasperksy are complaining that the software has ceased downloading updates. Turns out AOL recently severed its relationship with Kaspersky, and is now offering customers free anti-virus service from McAfee.

It doesn't appear that AOL gave any sort of advanced warning that this change was forthcoming, although the company has information up on its site detailing the new McAfee offering. An AOL spokesperson said that while the the ISP is no longer offering new licenses for the free Kaspersky software, there is no reason that customers who still have time left on their Kasperksy license should have stopped receiving updates for the program.

Even so, some AOL virus shield users have reported that they can no longer download virus signatures to keep the program up-to-date. Assuming those users still have time left on their license (it gets renewed once a year), there appears to be a relatively simple tweak that has helped re-enable updates for many users.

Alternatively, AOL users can remove Kaspersky, pay to upgrade to a full version, or uninstall the program and go with the free McAfee offering. There also are several other free anti-virus options out there, including Antivir Personal Edition Classic, AVAST Home Edition, BitDefender Free, Clamwin Free, and Grisoft's AVG Free.

By Brian Krebs  |  September 12, 2007; 11:10 AM ET
Categories:  From the Bunker , Safety Tips  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Security Updates for Windows 2000, Instant Messager
Next: Would You Like Some Quechup With Your Spam?


AOL has been bundling McAfee for years and they started offering it for free to non-subscribers back when they switched to their new ad-based business model.

Posted by: Dave | September 12, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Brian Krebs on Computer Security is a regular stop on my news travels, and I often post links to his stories. His items are all well written and usually very informative. So, imagine my surprise at today's story "AOL's Free Anti-Virus Switcheroo". The story has also been picked up by many other "news" providers.

This is an item I covered Friday, August 03, 2007. I know it's been a very slow week for news, BUT... a six week old story... disappointing.

Posted by: A Visitor | September 12, 2007 7:10 PM | Report abuse

>AOL has been bundling McAfee for years and they started offering it for free to non-subscribers back when they switched to their new ad-based business model.<

That's what I thought. I've been using the free AOL Safety and Security (firewall, spyware, and antivirus) since they switched their business model and it's always been McAfee.

I still haven't figured what the change is here.

Posted by: Paul | September 12, 2007 8:40 PM | Report abuse

AOL still has users?? Who knew?

Posted by: BelchSpeak | September 13, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

@A Visitor:

You're right. You published it first. All others should therefore refrain from publishing.

Posted by: Rick | September 13, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

PC Tools has a good free antivirus too. I've been using it for a few months.

Posted by: Mark | September 13, 2007 5:34 PM | Report abuse

The free alternatives are very nice. I have had a lot of good experience with Avast. I like their pricing model for professional use too, it's a great way for an IT manager to get deeper protection. Pay for it at work, and get people to use it for free at home.

Posted by: Gentry | September 14, 2007 3:51 AM | Report abuse

If ya'll still have time left on your Kaspersky license key then ya'll could do the following to continue updating your anti virus signatures....

a) Edit the "hosts" file in C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc, and add the following line at the end ...

Thats it :)

Now next time you update your anti virus signatures, AVS will obtain the updates from the Kaspersky servers. (this happens because after its connection to AOL times out, AVS automatically looks for a download from the Kaspersky servers)


Posted by: Prometheus999 | September 14, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Brian, for god's sake - stop grouping AOL with ISPs!

AOL is a Content Provider, NOT and ISP.

You do not connect to the Internet when you connect to AOL - you connect to AOL, and from (or through) there, you can then browse the Internet.

Posted by: Dan | September 15, 2007 6:47 PM | Report abuse

>Brian, for god's sake - stop grouping AOL with ISPs!

>AOL is a Content Provider, NOT and ISP.

AFAIK AOL still offers dial-up service. If that's not the definition of an ISP I don't know what is.

Posted by: Steven | September 18, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

An Internet Service Provider provides Internet connection service, or per the Webopedia Computer Dictionary:
"...a company that provides access to the Internet."

A dial-up content provider provides content, and possibly a connection to the Internet THROUGH their content service if they so desire.

When you dial AOL, you are accessing their content service - and only AFTER you are connected can you access the Internet THROUGH their service.

Posted by: Dan | September 20, 2007 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Just had a funny problem with the new AOL-McAfee Security Software. The latest update from McAfee results in other email programs failing to work. (Specifically I use Eudora or Mozilla Thunderbird to collect my email from work.) The McAfee update is automatic and requires that the computer be restarted. When it does, the other email programs can no longer access the accounts. Any suggestions? I use Windows XP, by the way.

Posted by: Jean | October 5, 2007 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Was your father's name Norm from Cicero, IL
and is he with us? I am looking for old friends

Posted by: | November 19, 2007 6:29 PM | Report abuse

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