AOL is about to get into the Internet security arms race with a new product that helps check the security health of users' PCs, has learned.

Active Security Monitor will be a free downloadable program that will continuously check the security programs on a user's computer, such as antivirus, firewall, spyware protection, wireless security, and Windows/browser updates, according to details obtained by

The program is designed to check the user's PC then provide a Security Score and make recommendations to improve it.

A spokesperson for AOL refused to comment.

A score provided to the user will help summarize the computer's risk from viruses, identity theft, and network intrusion, based on how well the security software is updated, for example.

Last year, AOL's own research along with the National Cyber Security Alliance found that 81 percent of home PCs in the U.S. lacked either updated computer virus software, spyware protection, or a secure firewall. AOL's hope is that users will rely on Active Security Monitor to know when and what to update.

By releasing the Active Security Monitor product, which is expected later this week, AOL is joining a crowded field of security providers, which just got even more crowded, thanks to Microsoft.

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