Dell patches vulnerability affecting hundreds of computer models worldwide

Dell XPS 15
(Image credit: IT Pro)

Dell has released a security patch for a vulnerability found in a driver file that affects hundreds of desktop and laptop models going back to 2009.

The vulnerability, marked as CVE-2021-21551, has an 8.8 rating on the 10 point CVSS threat scoring system and refers to Dell driver dbutil_2_3.sys, which contains an insufficient access control vulnerability which may lead to escalation of privileges, denial of service, or information disclosure.

It was originally discovered by researchers from Sentinel Labs who found that attackers could exploit these vulnerabilities to locally escalate to kernel-mode privileges. Since 2009, Dell has released hundreds of millions of Windows devices worldwide which contain the vulnerable driver.

The findings, which were proactively reported to Dell on 1 December 2020, essentially found that the vulnerabilities would allow attackers to bypass security products, although the researchers haven’t seen any evidence of this weakness being exploited.

The Dell XPS 13 and 15 range of laptops, the Vostro 7590, and the Precision 5820 XL Tower are all said to be vulnerable to the flaw, as well as every device belonging to the Latitude, Inspirion, and Precision ranges. A full list containing over 380 models has been published by Dell on its website.

The dbutil_2_3.sys driver may have also been installed on Dell systems as part of later firmware update utility packages, Dell Command Update, Dell Update, Alienware Update, Dell System Inventory Agent, or Dell Platform Tags, the company has warned.

Dell recommends removing the driver from the system by installing a remediated package containing BIOS, Thunderbolt, TPM or dock firmware; updating Dell Command Update, Dell Update or Alienware Update; or installing the latest version of Dell System Inventory Agent or Dell Platform Tags.

Last month, Microsoft fixed the vulnerability CVE-2021-28310 which was likely being used in a chain alongside other exploits in Windows 10 to seize control of victims’ devices. To use it, hackers would need to already have access to a system, or trick users into running the code on their behalf.

Zach Marzouk

Zach Marzouk is a former ITPro, CloudPro, and ChannelPro staff writer, covering topics like security, privacy, worker rights, and startups, primarily in the Asia Pacific and the US regions. Zach joined ITPro in 2017 where he was introduced to the world of B2B technology as a junior staff writer, before he returned to Argentina in 2018, working in communications and as a copywriter. In 2021, he made his way back to ITPro as a staff writer during the pandemic, before joining the world of freelance in 2022.