Mozilla plans to expand the reach of its web-based Plugin Check service so that it monitors whether add-ons on browsers from other suppliers are up to date and secure.
An earlier version of Plugin Check only checked whether Firefox installations were running with the latest version of Adobe Flash and Apple's QuickTime, for example. It's then up to surfers to visit relevant signposted websites and apply updates, which are not automatically downloaded.
The next version of the service provides a comparable check with Chrome, Safari and Opera add-ons. The technology will also work with new versions (7 and 8) of IE - although only a limited number of plug-ins to Microsoft's browser are checked by Mozilla's technology, Computerworld reports.
The cross-browser security check site, an extension of Firefox-only technology that launched last October, was due to debut on Wednesday but is not yet fully activated at the time of writing on Thursday. Checks on versions of Safari and Chrome running on a Mac detected version numbers of plug-ins but provided no information on whether they were up-to-date or not.
Security notification firm Secunia, which already provides similar functionality on the latest version of its Personal Software Inspector patching tool, which is available at no charge to home users, nonetheless welcomed Mozilla's move towards offering multi-browser security checks.
Thomas Kristensen, chief security officer at Secunia, told The Register that even though the Personal Software Inspector's coverage was "somewhat more extensive than what Mozilla offers" the browser maker's actions would help highlight the need to patch browser add-ons. "Lets hope that more [browser suppliers] will join the battle to thwart old insecure software," Kristensen said. "Patching is more important than having an anti-virus program and a personal firewall," he added. ®