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Turn your head and cough, Firefox! Mozilla's plugin check is live

Whichever browser you happen to be using, there's more to keeping it up to date than running automatic updates for the browser itself. There are all those nasty plugins -- like Flash, Java, and Quicktime. Each one presents new opportunities for malware pushers, so an outdated plugin can put an unsuspecting web user at great risk.

Mozilla announced a while back that they were tweaking the "What's new?" landing page to alert users to possible danger. After a Firefox update installs the page is displayed in a new tab when your browser re-opens, hopefully urging you to update an unpatched Flash player.

Taking things a step further is the new Plugin Check, which looks at all the popular plugins. If things are up to date, you'll see only green "Learn More" buttons. If you fall behind and aren't running the latest version but there's no major risk, you'll get a yellow "Update" button.

If there's a known exploit fixed by a newer version of a plugin, you'll get an un-subtle red "Update NOW." And in the event that some horrible exploit is floating around with no known patch, the button will offer to disable the offending plugin for you.

Am I the only one daydreaming about a 1950's style public service announcement warning Johnny about this sort of thing?

"Not so fast, Johnny! You shouldn't be browsing with that old Flash Player plugin. Haven't your parents talked to you about unsafe browsing?"

Tags: firefox, flash, java, mozilla, online-safety, plugins, quicktime, security