WWW FAQs: What are browser plug-ins?

2004-03-25: Web browser plug-ins (sometimes just spelled plugins) are additional pieces of software that add extra capabilities to your web browser, such as the ability to view movies, run Java applets, or see Flash animations. Unfortunately, since plug-ins run with all the privileges of real applications, they can do absolutely anything to your computer. That means you should never, ever agree to install a plug-in unless you have very good reason to trust the source. Keep in mind that the Flash plug-in comes with your computer, and most systems also come with a Java plug-in. Other mainstream plug-ins include RealPlayer. You will almost never have a good reason to install a plug-in that isn't one of these, so say "no" when your browser asks you to install one, unless you have an excellent reason to do otherwise. See what is ActiveX? for more information on this subject.

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