Today, Thursday, AOL releases a free application that checks the security software and settings of PCs and home networks and lets users know about vulnerabilities it detects.
To download the free diagnostic tool, called Active Security Monitor, users should go here or to software download sites such as Download.com. Users don't need to be AOL subscribers to download the application.
If the tool is installed on a PC that belongs to a home network, the tool can also check the network's security configuration and report its findings to the user.
If all PCs on a home network are outfitted with Active Security Monitor, the application is also able to provide a comprehensive snapshot of the general security status of every PC and the network in a single dashboard-type interface.
"This application is designed to give users a good, independent assessment of their overall security situation," says John McKinley, president of AOL Digital Services.
The tool is designed to help users keep their security applications updated and their system's security settings properly configured, he says. This is increasingly complicated, because users have to keep track of a growing variety of security applications, including antivirus software, security patches, spyware catchers and firewalls. "You're only as strong as your weakest link," he says.
By default, the application does a security survey once every day, but users can modify this to run more often, he says. AOL has been beta testing Active Security Monitor since mid-May.