AOL will bundle anti-virus software from McAfee for free with the next version of its software.
The monster ISP is making McAfee's VirusScan Online available at no additional cost to both broadband and dial-up AOL customers. Previously it was a premium service. The software will allow members to scan their computer hard drive for viruses and quarantine or disinfect corrupted files, the company said.
Customers who upgrade to AOL 9.0 Security Edition, the newest version of the software, will be able to download and activate VirusScan after the upgrade is complete. Those using earlier editions of the 9.0 software will have to download the software separately from AOL's website.
AOL has been offering VirusScan as a premium service since April 2003 for $2.95 per month. Customers who signed up for it will continue to receive the service but will not be charged, the company confirmed.
In addition to the desktop anti-virus protection, AOL already scans file attachments in incoming and outgoing e-mail messages, the company said.
Earlier this week, AOL announced the results of a survey that said 20 percent of home computers were infected by a virus or worm, and that various forms of snooping programs such as spyware were on a worrying 80 percent of systems.
The survey of home computers and their owners also revealed a gap between users' perceptions and the prevalence of actual threats on the Internet, with more than two-thirds of home users interviewed for the survey saying they felt safe from online threats.
AOL 9.0 Security Edition will be released in November.