A vulnerability in the Dell SupportAssist utility exposes Dell laptops and personal computers to a remote attack that can allow hackers to execute code with admin privileges on devices using an older version of this tool and take over users’ systems.
Dell has released a patch for this security flaw on April 23; however, many users are likely to remain vulnerable unless they’ve already updated the tool –which is used for debugging, diagnostics, and Dell drivers auto-updates.
The number of impacted users is believed to be very high, as the SupportAssist tool is one of the apps that Dell will pre-install on all Dell laptops and computers the company ships with a running Windows OS (systems sold without an OS are not impacted).
According to Bill Demirkapi, a 17-year-old security researcher from the US, the Dell SupportAssist app is vulnerable to a “remote code execution” vulnerability that under certain circumstances can allow attackers an easy way to hijack Dell systems.
Because the Dell SupportAssist tool runs as admin, attackers will have full access to targeted systems, if they manage to get themselves in the proper position to execute this attack.
Attack requires LAN/router compromise
“The attacker needs to be on the victim’s network in order to perform an ARP Spoofing Attack and a DNS Spoofing Attack on the victim’s machine in order to achieve remote code execution,” Demirkapi told ZDNet today in an email conversation.
This might sound hard, but it isn’t as complicated as it appears.
Two scenarios in which the attack could work include public WiFi networks or large enterprise networks where there’s at least one compromised machine that can be used to launch the ARP and DNS attacks against adjacent Dell systems running the SupportAssist tool.