Vulnerable Dell support tool now detected as risky software

Older versions of Dell System Detect contain a serious vulnerability that allows hackers to install malware on users' computers

Security vendor Malwarebytes has flagged the Dell System Detect tool as a potentially unwanted application after older versions of the program were found to put computers at risk.

Last month a security researcher named Tom Forbes warned that attackers can exploit a weakness in older versions of Dell System Detect to remotely install malware on computers when users visit specially crafted websites.

The program allows Dell's support website to automatically detect the service tags of users' PCs, so it can offer the corresponding drivers. The tool is offered for download when users click the "Detect Product" button on the website for the first time and continues to run in the background after installation.

Forbes reported the issue to Dell back in November and the company released a patched version of Dell System Detect on Jan. 9. However, it seems that many users have not yet updated and their computers are still at risk.

Moreover, the version released by Dell in January -- 6.0.9 -- did not completely fix the problem, researchers from F-Secure said Thursday in a blog post. In order to be secure, users need to install version 6.0.14, which also prevents the program from running automatically when the operating system starts, they said.

Data gathered by F-Secure through its products over the past two weeks showed that Dell System Detect is installed on at least 100,000 computers and only about 1 percent of them run the latest 6.0.14 version.

"We are continuing to investigate further issues and actions that may be necessary to protect our customers," the F-Secure researchers said.

On Friday, security vendor Malwarebytes announced that vulnerable versions of the program will now be detected as PUP.Vulnerable.DellSystemDetect by its products. In the antivirus industry PUP stands for potentially unwanted program.

"We at Malwarebytes are pretty sure there are a lot of folks that won't know about this vulnerability, so we decided to detect it for the sake of raising awareness," the company said in a blog post. "Vulnerable versions of this tool have been seen as early as mid 2012 though most likely even earlier, according to our sources so anyone with a Dell system purchased a few years ago should take special notice and run a scan ASAP."

The owners of Dell computers should either uninstall the tool or ensure that they're running the latest version by following the instructions on Dell's website.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags patch managementmalwareDellantivirusf-secureExploits / vulnerabilitiesMalwarebytes

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?