AOL Shuns Mac Users With New PassCode Service

A new, optional log-on service from America Online that makes it harder for scammers to access a persons online account will not be available for Macintosh users and the company has no immediate plans to offer the service any time soon, The Mac Observer confirmed Thursday.

AOL PassCode, announced Tuesday, is a joint venture between AOL and security firm RSA Security Inc.

The service is meant to be a second layer of security primarily for small businesses, victims of identity theft and individuals who pay a lot of bills and conduct other financial transactions through their AOL accounts.

A non-Mac AOL user will have a matchbook-size device (see photo below) from RSA Security displaying a six-digit code that changes every minute. The code is necessary to log on, so a scammer who guesses or steals a password cannot access the account without having the device. The result is a unique, one-time-use PassCode that is used to positively identify, or authenticate, the user. If the code is validated by the system, the user is granted access to their AOL account. If it is not recognized, the user is denied access.

The new AOL PassCode handheld generator and its online service will not be available for Mac users at launch.

AOL PassCode will cost US$1.95 a month in addition to a one-time $9.95 fee on top of the monthly subscription fee and will be available for Windows-based PCs only, said AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham.

"AOL Passcode is not currently available to Mac users," Mr. Graham told The Mac Observer. When asked if there are currently any plans to offer the service to Mac users in the future, Mr. Graham said, "(that is) unclear at this time."