updated 10:30 am EDT, Mon September 7, 2009
May close some common vulnerabilities
Beginning with two Tuesday updates, all future iterations of Mozilla's Firefox browser will check for at least some outdated plug-ins, the company has announced. Firefox 3.5.3 and 3.0.14 will both scan for the latest version of Flash, prompting users to visit a link where an updated plug-in can be downloaded. "For now, our focus is on the Adobe Flash Player both because of its popularity and because some studies have shown that as many as 80 percent of users currently have an out-of-date version," says Firefox security team member Johnathan Nightingale.
The change may be particularly relevant in light of Mac OS X Snow Leopard, as the OS comes bundled with an outdated version of Flash. Unless users manually update the plug-in themselves, they are potentially exposed to several long-fixed security vulnerabilities.
Firefox 3.6, slated to ship in early November, will check for an greater range of plug-in updates through the component currently used to upgrade conventional extensions. Some supported plug-ins should include QuickTime, Reader, Silverlight and Java. Warnings about outdated plug-ins will appear at startup, whenever Mozilla updates its formal list, and/or when users visit a page which requires an outdated plug-in.
Mozilla is so far the only developer to announce plans for plug-in version detection.