As an internet provider, we receive billions of requests every day from our customers to connect to all sorts of websites. Some of the websites contain viruses or deliberately malicious code, which can be used to steal our customers information or damage their computer. Often, the website owners are unaware that malicious code or viruses are on their site.
We want to help our customers and their devices (PCs, Macs, games consoles, set top boxes etc.) avoid being compromised by these threats, so we've designed and built a new security product called HomeSafe. It gives our customers greater protection and control over their web browsing experience. As it's brand new, we want our customers to start using it and tell us what they think.
By switching on Virus Alerts, every computer or device connected to the internet through the AOL Broadband network can be better protected. This is thanks to the warning system it includes - if you try to access a website infected with a virus when using the service, you'll receive a warning, advising you not to.
The Virus Alerts process starts when customers search for a website URL (the www. address for the site you want to visit).
These lists will be used to alert our customers to websites suspected to be infected with viruses or other nasty surprises, depending on whether they have chosen to receive such alerts. Customers who have not chosen to receive Virus Alerts will continue to browse as they do today without any alerting when they visit potentially harmful websites.
The two other exciting new features of HomeSafe are Kids Safe and Homework Time.
HomeSafe is free to all AOL Broadband customers and all the features are switched off by default. To switch them on and set up Virus Alerts, Kids Safe and Homework Time log in to your AOL Broadband MyAccount.
Because we don't believe enough is being done to protect internet users from online nasties including spammers, fraudsters and viruses, we've developed a range of free features to give you extra protection.
Thanks to these measures, the risk of losing personal information such as your address, phone numbers, passwords and bank details is greatly reduced.
Plus, with Kids Safe and Homework Time, you've got the option to control the sites your children access.
Not only is existing PC/Mac security software tricky to install, it only provides protection for one computer at a time. However, HomeSafe provides protection for all the electronic devices connected to your AOL Broadband Home Broadband - like games consoles and smartphones. It's quick and easy to set up, with no software to install, and doesn't slow your computers or devices down.
Our Virus Alerts help protect you from visiting harmful websites.. If you try to access a site we think could be harmful, you will see a warning page, advising you not to open it.
Because the internet is changing all the time, no single person has a list of all the websites available in the world. So, to provide effective online protection, we constantly scan the internet to identify infected web pages. To do this, we need to know which webpages exist and are being visited. So, as you browse the internet, the webpage addresses you visit get stripped of personal information, and any pages that haven't been scanned that day are checked for malware (harmful content). This is done automatically by high-security scanning systems in the AOL Broadband network.
Yes, we've shared all the details of HomeSafe with the Information Commissioner's Office. We're happy to provide similar information to any other regulatory authority who requests it.
No. None of this information is personalised or stored. The network processes billions of requests a day, so these lists are recorded in temporary memory.
Virus Alerts scans all the websites you visit and is completely anonymous. You just need to opt-in to Virus Alerts if you want warnings to pop up while you browse. If you activate Virus Alerts, you can switch it off at any time afterwards.
No, we don't keep records of your internet browsing history.
If any of our customers has visited the webpage you are visiting already that day, the information is deleted within seconds. Otherwise, we immediately scan it to check it's clean. If it's safe, we add it to our whitelist (safe website list) for the rest of the day. If it looks like it poses a security risk, we'll place it on our blacklist (unsafe website list) to monitor it for at least 7 days.
It's permanently deleted - i.e. the whitelist is permanently deleted every 24 hours.
Unless you have effective protection, you may never know if your computer has a virus. Some viruses silently gather and send information back to the person who designed them. Others are easier to spot as they will crash your computer or simply slow it down. Virus Alerts warns you not to visit websites known to have viruses, giving you the chance to avoid them.
This depends how complex the virus is and whether the anti-virus software spots it before or after it's started to operate. If the anti-virus software recognises the threat before it's downloaded or opened, it is quickly and easily deleted.
Free anti-virus software isn't usually as up-to-date as paid-for software. If your freeware (free security) only updates once a week, you could be attacked by a virus which the paid-for software would have spotted and removed much sooner. Normally, with paid-for software, technical support is available if you need any help.
Network based Virus Alerts warn you about risky web pages before you open them - they work on PCs, Macs and any other devices connected to your AOL Broadband Home Broadband - this includes devices your guests have when they visit you. Anti-Virus software protects computers from other sources of infection and removes malware (harmful web content).
No, they complement each other. Virus Alerts extends protection to devices unable to use traditional Anti-Virus software as they access websites. i.e. smartphones or games consoles.
You don't have to do anything; we keep everything updated for you. Once your Virus Alerts are on, you'll see a warning before you visit a known suspect website.
Unfortunately no security service can guarantee this, because it takes a while to spot new infections. As soon as we find and recognise them, you will be protected.
You will see the AOL Broadband warning page and instructions on what options you have.
Yes, and you'll see the option to turn Virus Alerts off. If you change your mind, you can turn them back on again whenever you like in one simple click.
We scan every website at least one of our customers visits, every day.
Kids Safe lets you block websites you think are unsafe or unsuitable for your children or teenagers.
Homework Time lets you set a time during the day to block your children from accessing social networking and game websites, either 7 days a week or Monday to Friday.
HomeSafe can only block web addresses which are looked up by the AOL Broadband network (those which you type into a standard browser like Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari). If you use a web proxy or VPN (signing into your work network from home is an example of using a VPN) AOL Broadband cannot control what content is passed back to you by that proxy or VPN.
This includes AOL Desktop versions 9.1 and earlier, AOL Desktop for Mac, and AOL Desktop 9.6 if you have the TopSpeed proxy enabled.
To upgrade your AOL Desktop to version 9.6 follow this link:
To turn off TopSpeed proxy from the AOL Desktop 9.6:
N.B. Blackberry Smartphones may use proxy technology which bypasses HomeSafe. This may vary depending upon model – please consult your mobile provider for further information.
The advantage of these products is that they protect every computer or device in the whole home. As you can change the settings whenever you choose, you should still be able to find the right balance of protection for everyone in your family. For more specific controls, and protection out of the home, you may want to use AOL Desktop Parental Controls (see the next question).
Can I use AOL Desktop Parental Controls with HomeSafe?
AOL Desktop's Parental Controls bypass HomeSafe on the computer using them, so if you want to set up a particular level of control on one computer for a child (for example, you want to restrict more sites for them than you have applied via HomeSafe to other devices in your home), you can set up the AOL Desktop parental controls for them. Please note that as the AOL Desktop parental controls bypass HomeSafe, you will also not receive any Virus Alerts when browsing using the child's AOL Desktop profile, even if you set Virus Alerts up for the rest of your home.
To find out about setting AOL Desktop Parental Controls click here:
None, the default setting is off, i.e. no blocking.
Register your AOL Broadband My Account at https://myaccount.aolbroadband.co.uk/
Log into My Account. Make sure you don't let your web browser "Remember" your My Account password, as you won't want anyone else logging in without the password. Select HomeSafe. This will lead you to the Kids Safe and Homework Time settings. Click these and follow the instructions to set up your blocking profile. You can return to My Account to change these setting whenever you like. An email will be sent to account holder's Screen Name email address every time settings are changed.
New websites are categorised daily.
If our panel of online experts agree with you, we will. To suggest a site you'd like us to block, log in to My Account and select the 'Give Feedback' option in the HomeSafe area.
No, Kids Safe only filters websites rather than messages from individuals.
Yes, you can add up to nine websites to your own custom-made list.
They will see a AOL Broadband blocking page and will not be able to visit the site they want to.
They can either go back to the previous page, or ask you to change the blocking settings.
No. However they won't be able to progress without your permission.
Yes. You can switch if off by visiting My Account. An email will be sent to account holder's Screen Name email address every time settings are changed.
Yes, browsing will be filtered if you're using any of these via your AOL Broadband Home broadband.
No. Kids Safe blocks websites, it doesn't spot viruses on them. Virus Alerts can help block you from picking up viruses online. To prevent, detect or clean viruses for up to 3 computers, you can add our Super Safe Boost.
Unfortunately no system is 100% failsafe, but Kids Safe and Homework Time will help protect your family from inappropriate websites.
Kids Safe simply blocks the categories of webpages themselves - it doesn't block references to all the pages on the internet. However, some search engines offer their own filtering controls.
The current HomeSafe product is designed to block access to websites. We are not currently able to block application data from being sent and received. We are exploring what other security features we can add to HomeSafe in future.