AOL users will now receive anti-virus protection from Kaspersky Lab at no cost, both companies announced this week.
Called Kaspersky Active Virus Shield, the product defends against viruses, spyware, malware and trojans and offers email and file scanning.
The alliance is another example of internet service firms adding security to their offerings. Yahoo announced the availability of Symantec security offerings for users of their services.
Kaspersky's offerings for AOL also include signature-based and in-depth scanning for viruses, hourly updates, real-time file protection and email protection.
Steve Orenberg, Kaspersky Lab president, said today that there is a portion of the PC user population that doesn't place much emphasis on protection, and get it solely from their internet service provider.
"There is a segment of the population that does want that. In that case, with AOL, both of us realize that the segment doesn't have protection - doesn't have anti-virus (AV) installed - or maybe they had it installed and they never bothered to renew it. If they don't think they've been hit with a virus, AV protection isn't at the front of their minds," he said.
A representative from AOL could not be reached for comment. In a prepared statement, John McKinley, president of AOL Digital Services, called online security should be "a right."
"The consumer PC security experience is long overdue for reinvention," he said. "With so many consumers online with inadequate security safeguards, it is time to make things like virus protection a fundamental right, not a risk."
Ron O'Brien, senior security analyst at Sophos, said many home users are not yet safety driven.
"What's happening is that there is a reluctance on the part of the end user to commit the time or the resources to get the software updated," he said. "If you're a frequent user, and AOL can assure that you're going to be protected, that that's a plus for AOL."