AOL 9.0 SE's interface looks and feels just like that of AOL 9.0 Optimized. The familiar e-mail and messaging icons are at the top, your AOL Instant Messenger Buddy list lines the right side, and the start page consumes much of the middle of the screen. The only noticeable interface change is the Safety Toolbar, which has been enhanced to include the new virus scanner, firewall, and spam control settings.
In addition to adding McAfee VirusScan Online and McAfee Personal Firewall Express (these are custom versions of McAfee VirusScan 9.0 and McAfee Personal Firewall Plus), AOL also beefed up its spam control settings to let you set your spam filter to Low, Medium, or High, in addition to blocking specific e-mail addresses. AOL added a Report IM Spam button on all instant-messenger forms, letting you identify and eliminate instant messages from unknown senders.As its name indicates, most of the new features in AOL 9.0 Security Edition are designed to protect your privacy, your PC, and, by cutting down on spam and pop-up ads, your sanity.
On the corporate back end, AOL runs virus scans on all of the e-mail attachments that travel over its network. Now, all AOL users will have a personal virus scanner on their PC. The desktop apps include automatic updates, which are important, because even if you have a virus scanner installed, you may forget to keep its definitions updated. The McAfee virus scanner runs in the background, always scanning your PC for infections.