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Dell laptops found to come with a certificate hack, similar to Superfish

Dell laptops found to come with a certificate hack, similar to Superfish

by AshwinNovember 24, 2015

A few months ago, Chinese OEM Lenovo, was in the limelight, for a malware which came pre-installed on its computers.

Dell eDellRoot Certificate Insecure

This was the Superfish exploit, which put the user’s privacy at risk, because of a root certificate, signed by the company.

And now, American PC maker Dell seems to have followed in the dark footsteps of its rival. Some of Dell’s laptops have been found to come with a security exploit, much akin to Superfish.

The new exploit, which is currently unnamed, is actually a certificate hack, to be more precise one related to SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). In case you aren’t aware web browsers and other applications use the SSL technology to establish a secure (encrypted) connection to a website or a webserver.

A programmer named Joe Nord, discovered the presence of a certificate called eDellRoot, on his newly purchased Dell Inspiron 5000 series notebook. He reports that the certificate is self-signed by Dell.

Since it is stored locally, it could be a target for attackers, who could then forge a fake certificate using the key. This could allow the attacker to intercept all encrypted communications between the user’s PC to any server.

The certificate hack is reportedly present in the new Dell XPS 15, as well as on the Inspiron 5000. However, it appears that there may be more devices which could be affected. The Verge reports that it was able to detect the presence of the exploit, in an XPS 13.

Dell has issued an official statement, which acknowledges the security risk posed by the eDellRoot certificate, and goes on to explain that it was merely included for tech support purposes, in that it would be used to quickly identify the model of the PC. The company has officially apologized for the confusion caused, and has offered a workaround to remove the certificate from its products.

Additionally, it will release a software update, which will scan the user’s PC, to detect the presence of the certificate, and if any instance is found, it will be removed automatically.

Dell says that it takes the privacy and security of its customers as a top priority, and that the certificate in question is not a malware or an adware of any kind. It also clarified that the certificate is not used for collecting any personal information.

The good news is that once you remove the certificate, it will not be re-installed. Dell has assured users, that it will not ship the eDellRoot certificate anymore, in future PCs. But