AOL is letting users test a new security tool that analyses their PCs and home networks and alerts them about gaps that could leave them vulnerable to viruses, worms, spyware and other threats.

The tool, called Active Security Monitor, which can be downloaded for free, evaluates the security software and settings on users' PCs and based on that delivers an overall security rating, along with recommendations for improvement, AOL said on Friday on its Beta Central site.

AOL developed Active Security Monitor because to properly protect a PC, users need to install, configure and maintain a variety of software programs, such as firewalls, anti-virus and anti-spyware applications, and it can be complicated to keep track of all of them.

Among other things, Active Security Monitor checks anti-virus and anti-spyware programs, firewalls, operating system updates and web browser settings.