PSA: If you’ve got a Dell computer, you might want to fix this now

Your new Windows laptop usually ships with a lot of bloatware that you do not need. Often, it will only slow down your computer a bit. But occasionally, a pre-installed piece of manufacturer cruft can pose a serious security risk, and that's why you should probably update or uninstall Dell SupportAssist immediately.

The application, which according to the Dell support page, is pre-installed on "most new Dell devices running Windows" and is considered "the industry's first automated proactive and predictive support technology", they have apparently been vulnerable to a hack since at least last October, according to 17-year-old security researcher Bill Demirkapi. It is not clear why it is only being updated.

It's potentially unpleasant: Dell's SupportAssist has administrator access to Windows and is designed to automatically install updates on your computer, and Demirkapi found a way to hijack those update requests. – theoretically, let a hacker install something nasty that you could use to further violate your PC. You can read all about this and see a proof of concept on your blog.

On the positive side, Demirkapi told ZDNet that it only works if the hacker is on the same local network as your PC, say the public Wi-Fi at your local Starbucks, workplace or school. And the repair should be as simple as uninstalling the application or upgrading to SupportAssist v 3.2.0.90 or later. You can find the installer on the Dell support page for the vulnerability, here.

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