Yahoo, SBC offer free online security suite

Suite gives DSL customers new antispyware, antivirus tools, and e-mail protection

Yahoo and telecommunication partner SBC Communications rolled out a free suite of security software to their U.S. DSL (digital subscriber line) customers on Tuesday, saying the move comes in response to customer demand for stronger online protection.

The suite includes antispyware and antivirus tools, a pop-up blocker, parental controls, and e-mail protection. SBC Yahoo DSL subscribers can manage the tools from an integrated dashboard, the companies said.

It is the latest among security offerings served up by Internet service providers that have been under pressure to keep up with growing online threats.

America Online (AOL) has its own security tools for broadband customers, including a personal firewall, antivirus protection, and parental controls.

The new suite also represents another move by major technology providers like Yahoo into the antivirus space, which has traditionally been filled by smaller security companies.

Earlier this month Microsoft announced that it is preparing a new consumer security product for Windows-based PCs called OneCare, featuring virus and spyware protection and a firewall. OneCare will be a subscription service when it is released.

But Yahoo and SBC are setting the bar in terms of offering a free, bundled security suite, according to Yankee Group analyst Zeus Kerravala.

"Usually service providers offers these things to raise revenue, even if it's just by a few dollars a year," Kerravala said.

However, Kerravala saw service providers' push into online protection as a positive move since it simplifies Internet users' access to security tools.

Yahoo representatives weren't immediately available to comment on whether the free security tools would eventually be available outside of the U.S.

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