How safe are AOL users?

How safe are AOL users? this is a good question which is mostly ignored. I will try and throw some light on it and may be some people will come to light as to what this big company is doing..

Recently I was called for an onsite service call at a residence. The issue was that they had just purchased a wireless router [Linksys G series] and they were not able to make it work with their laptop. And another issue was that their desktop would not connect to AOL if they wired it to the router. So they wanted me to configure it right.

I have never been a fan of AOL, as they put craf on your PC. Being a tech I know that and there are tools that you can download for free to see how infected your computer software is.

Anyways, I go there and refresh the power on the cable modem and the router and it seems to work. So I wire it up to the PC to see if Internet works. Yes it did. So why did his AOL did not connect? well, after examining his computer I realized that he already had bunch of spyware, trojens and or worms on his computer. So I try to decrapify his PC by scanning it with Spybot Search and destroy and AdAware SE Personal ed. Most of the things are cleaned, but of course it took off some functionality of AOL. You will wonder why? Wait I know, coz some software that AOL installs on your PC need back door entry to be clear. I have known this for sometime now and for this very reason, I recommend to my customers not to use AOL in any form. But this giant company has acquired its market by mailing free CDs to people even in Mars.

So in order to fix the AOL software and AOL messenger, I had to reinstall the software from their web site and let it run. After it was all downloaded and installed, I try to start it up, but the same thing happened. The softweare would start, but during the connecting phase, it would simple disconnect. So I go into the router settings to see if there is some kind of built in firewall or port forwarding rule that I could use for AOL. But could not find any. Did AOL mention this during the installation phase – NO. So I think to myself that since they do not mention anything about port forwarding or relaxing firewall rules, it should work as it is. But no it did not. So finally I gave the PC a static IP and put that IP in the DMZ area of the router. [DMZ is an acronym for demilitarized zone. which means that the device under that IP is set with all ports open. which means no firewall and no immunity form hackers or broadcasted melicious softwares.] Guess what happens next – Yes, AOL works! But at the cost of exposing that PC to the demiliterized zone. I explained the customer of the risks, but he said he is trapped. All his business contacts have his AOL email ID and he has to have AOL for his business.

So much for giving your trust to a big company like America Online. What a bunch of liars and two faced people are running that company. They tell you that AOL gives you free spyware protection and protection from viruses. It actually has a software module to do that. But itn’t it an irony that the same software needs to be in a DMZ zone in order to function on a simple home networking router?? It needs you to open up back doors on your computer in oder or work? huh! I wonder how safe they really make your PC.