Dell laptop: If you have a computer with this logo, you should install updates now
Photo: BRENDAN MCDERMID / REUTERS
Computer manufacturer Dell has released a security patch that is potentially important for "hundreds of millions of Dell computers."
At least that's how the IT security company SentinelOne puts it, which has discovered a total of five vulnerabilities in Dell software.
Specifically, this is the driver program that imports so-called firmware updates into Dell products.
Firmware is the basic operating software of computer hardware, the operating system under the operating system, so to speak, which enables programs such as Windows to address the hardware in the first place. This is probably one of the reasons why the error is classified as potentially very dangerous. Attackers could exploit the vulnerability to gain extended rights on their victim's computer. For example, you could take control of the computer or access a company network from there.
It is not uncommon for IT experts to discover such security gaps, but it is certainly the length of time that the vulnerability was present in Dell's systems.
Because, as SentinelOne reports, the problematic software can be found in computers that have been produced between 2009 and today.
These include popular notebook series such as XPS13 and XPS15, but also OptiPlex desktops and Alienware gaming PCs as well as some docking stations for notebooks.
Hundreds of models affected
How many devices are affected, regardless of SentinelOne's estimate, is unclear.
Dell lists nearly 400 affected models on its website.
Since the company, along with Lenovo and HP, is one of the three largest PC manufacturers worldwide and sold more than 13 million computers in the fourth quarter of 2020 alone, the number could actually be in the three-digit million range.
According to SentinelOne, however, there is so far no evidence that the vulnerability has been actively exploited.
At the latest now that the information is publicly available, you should secure Dell computers against possible attacks.
On an information page about the security gaps, the company gives advice on how to proceed.