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Dell releases fix for security issue affecting its laptops: Everything to know

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If you have a Dell laptop, you could be facing a security issue that could give hackers access to your device. The security issue has reportedly affected at least 380 models of Dell laptops, including the high-end XPS and Alienware ones, released since 2009. Dell has begun rolling out a fix for the issue now, and users should ideally update their laptops to avoid being exposed to the vulnerability.

The security vulnerability is said to be present in the driver (dbutil_2_3.sys) that Dell laptops use to handle firmware updates. The Dell support page states that this driver has Dell Client firmware update utility packages and software tools and the vulnerability can “lead to escalation of privileges, denial of service, or information disclosure”. You may be impacted if you have applied a BIOS, Thunderbolt, TPM, or dock firmware update to your system.

The Dell support page lists out all the laptops that have been affected by the issue, which include various models including XPS 15 and Alienware laptops among others. If your laptop is part of the list you can make use of the fix, which has already been released by the company.

Various laptops that are a part of this list are considered to be “out of service” by the company. Dell and other security researchers believe that these devices may not have been affected. Windows Update does not install the dbutil_2_3.sys driver, which is the affected driver, according to Dell.

This means if you have never updated your laptop using the Dell Command Update, Dell Update, Alienware Update, Dell System Inventory Agent, or Dell Platform Tags, it is likely that your device may not be impacted by this issue. Hackers also need physical or remote access to your laptop to take advantage of this issue. The driver in question will get installed only with firmware updates and does not come pre-installed.

How to find out if your Dell laptop is impacted

If you believe your device has been a victim of such an issue, you can start by either manually removing the driver(dbutil_2_3.sys) or by downloading and running Dell Security Advisory Update – DSA-2021-088.

Then you need to update your Dell laptop’s firmware; the Dell Command Update, Dell Update, or Alienware Update as applicable.

By Updating the firmware to the latest version, you will stop the driver from getting “reintroduced” into the system, as Dell has stated.

Dell has also stated that the issue has been fixed for all the new laptops and PCs they are shipping right now, except for those that ship with Dell Command Update, Dell Update, or Alienware Update. These will be automatically updated when you first run the laptop.

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