Outdated plugins are a serious concern when it comes to security on the Internet. The main problem here is that a vulnerable plugin leaves the browser wide open for attacks targeting the vulnerability, and there is little that can be done about it to protect the browser. While you could install NoScript for Firefox or use click-to-play to block plugin contents from being executed automatically, it is best to make sure that plugins are up to date to avoid possible issues in first place.
Mozilla created the Plugin Check some time ago that checked plugin versions to inform Firefox users whether the plugins were up to date or outdated. Links pointed to the websites of companies like Apple, Adobe or Microsoft where the latest versions of plugins were available for download.
Firefox users soon will see notifications about oudated plugin versions when they try to access contents on the Internet that require them. While it is not clear yet how those notifications will look like, it is likely that Mozilla will implement a system that is similar to how Google handles outdated plugins in Chrome.
The browser displays a notification at the top highlighting what just happened on the page. Options are provided to run the plugin this time, or update the plugin instead.
Mozilla stated in a blog post that Firefox users may ignore the warnings and continue using the old plugins. It looks as if Firefox users are redirected to the Plugin Check page if they select to update. The option to bypass the warning is useful for Firefox users who deliberately installed an old plugin version, for instance if the latest version causes issues on their system: Flash anyone?
The checks are only carried out for Silverlight, Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash on Windows. It is not clear why Java has not been added to the mix, as it is also a high profile target on the web.
On a personal note: I have been running a plugin-free version of Firefox for the last weeks and do not really miss a thing. While I sometimes have to use Chrome to view Flash videos that I could not view otherwise, I did not experience any major issues other than that.
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.