"We currently recommend that users do not install the version of AOL (9.0) software that we tested, unless the user is comfortable with the level of risk we identify or until the application is updated consistent with the recommendations in this report," StopBadware warned in an advisory on its website this week.
A StopBadware.org representative could not immediately be reached for comment.
The organization charged the software with a number of safety concerns, including:
- Adding an AOL toolbar in Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE);
- Adding additional icons to the IE toolbar;
- Adding favorites in user taskbars;
- Failure to uninstall software completely;
Andrew Weinstein, AOL spokesman, said today that "AOL has done as much to protect users from badware as anyone in the industry," and pointed out the free inclusion of anti-virus software in AOL products.
"I think the organization makes it very clear that they do not consider AOL to be like the other sites they've reviewed," he said. "The concerns they've had are fairly minor, relating to disclosure language. Those are fairly non-substantive issues that will be addressed in (upcoming) software."
Click here to email online editor Frank Washkuch Jr.