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Active Virus Shield - free AV software from AOL



Is Active Virus Shield a snoop?

notes from Clif, Aug 2006


Last week I tried out a product from AOL called Active Virus Shield (AVS). I may have been premature to recommend it but I've still got it running on my desktop PC at home. Many people wrote me and told me there were many security experts who were concerned about the EULA (End User License Agreement) for AVS. It gives AOL too much freedom to give away it's users surfing habits and also gives them the right to send you emailed advertisements. They also included an Internet Explorer toolbar that raised a few concerns because it's based on a program that used to be used in an adware product called the "Softomate toolbar".


So far, I haven't gotten any dumb advertising emails from AOL or anything like that. I actually used a "real" email address when I signed up to get AVS. If AOL is actually tracking any of my surfing habits, I haven't detected it yet, but they are welcome to them if they find them. After all, Google, Yahoo, and MSN already have my surfing histories anyway. As for the toolbar, it was one of the first things I uninstalled after I started using AVS. I don't use Internet Explorer much anyway.


After a little bit of bad press, I've read that AOL has decided to rewrite the EULA so that it's a little easier to swallow. I imagine they will learn some lessons and play a little nicer in the future.


In the mean time, I will withdraw my recommendation for AVS, but I'm not going to tell anyone to stay away from it. To be honest, I like the program and it's features. I've been wrong about software before and I'll admit it when I've given you bad advice.


Thank you to everyone who wrote me ... I appreciate the information you've gathered.


Any comments?







Active Virus Shield - premium anti-virus freeware from AOL


Yes, I said AOL. It's hard to believe, but we've been seeing more and more stuff that AOL is giving away. I had my doubts about this freebie until I heard that it's actually a rebranded Kaspersky product.


Kaspersky's virus lab is located in Moscow, Russia and is headed by Eugene Kaspersky, Costin Raiu and Marc Blanchard. They have over a decade of experience in the antivirus field. In 2003 they received the Microsoft Gold Certified Partner status for Security Solutions and are active members in IT associations such as CARO (Computer Antivirus Research Organization) and ICSA (International Computer Security Association).


I have Active Virus Shield (AVS) running on my desktop PC now and I'm getting more comfortable with it. The only surprising thing to me was that AVS installed a proxy server on my PC.


I discovered this completely by accident one evening while I was running a scan of my PC with Ewido Micro. I found a Zango infection on my PC and decided to check all the internet connections to my computer with CurrPorts.


It turned out that this infection wasn't active and I was able to remove the files with little problem. In the process of determining that Zango wasn't connected to my PC, I found that every single connection to my web browser was being routed through Active Virus Shield. At first, I was very concerned, but the longer I thought about it, the more sense it made. It's almost like having a second firewall on my PC. While I'm surfing the web, this proxy server in AVS actually intercepts the web pages before I see them, looks at them, and then sends the page to my internet browser.


In summary, I will recommend the Active Virus Shield to anyone looking for a new AV tool . I don't know how long that it'll be around, but the same is true for any freeware application.


Later, I withdrew my recommendation for AVS. It's a good program, but the EULA needs some work before I can continue to recommend it.




Quote from the AVS website

• Advanced detection technology to help stop known and new viruses, spyware and other malware before they attack you.

• Always-on, automatically checks for updates every hour- providing real-time scanning and protection against virus threats

• Easy-to-install, works with most Windows® operating systems. (Windows 98, 2000, ME & XP)

• Free to everyone- No AOL subscription required




Any comments?