Dell starts flogging biz laptops with Intel Management Engine disabled

Dell starts flogging biz laptops with Intel Management Engine disabled

Dell starts flogging biz laptops with Intel Management Engine disabled

PC GIANT Dell has followed in the footsteps of Purism and System76 by offering laptops with Intel’s bug-ridden Management Engine disabled.

As first reported by Liliputing, Dell is now selling at least three biz-focused devices – including the Latitude 14 Rugged laptop, Latitude 15 E5570 laptop and Latitude 12 Rugged tablet –  that can be configured with an “Intel vPro™ – ME Inoperable, Custom Order” option.

The option seems to be available only on Dell’s US website at present, where punters will have to pay an extra $20 for the privilege (below).

Dell is the first major PC vendor to offer customers the option to disable Intel’s mysterious Management Engine, which has been widely criticised by privacy advocates and security researchers.

Earlier this month, Intel posted a security advisory warning manufacturers and users of its Management Engine of a number of firmware-level vulnerabilities and bugs found, which were also present in its Server Platform Services and the Trusted Execution Engine.

Security researchers warned that cybercriminals can cause instability with complete system crashes by exploiting the management engine, noting that they’ve also found a way to “impersonate” the engine and, in the process, kill existing PC security mechanisms.

Even before this warning was made public, Linux laptop flogger Purism announced that its Librem laptops, which run flexible open-source firmware Coreboot, are now running with Intel’s management service completely disabled, citing the number of exploits surrounding the firmware.

Zlatan Todoric, chief technology officer of Purism, said at the time: “Purism Librem laptops were already the most secure current Intel-based computers available on the market today, but disabling the management engine solidifies that statement clearly.”

Last week, System76 followed suit and announced that it’ll also be ridding of the firmware altogether.

“System76 will automatically deliver updated firmware with a disabled ME on Intel 6th, 7th, and 8th Gen laptops. The ME provides no functionality for System76 laptop customers and is safe to disable,” the firm said. µ