Dell's Twitter Account Apologizes For The 'Inconvenience' Of Helping NSA Install Spyware

from the time-to-go-off-script dept

There are times when big brands with “social media people” might want to teach those junior level employees to recognize that using one of the standard “scripted” answers might be inappropriate. Take, for example, if you’re Dell and a new report has come out suggesting that the NSA has pretty much compromised your servers at the BIOS level with spy bugs, then, when someone — especially a respected security guy like Martin Wismeijer — tweets at you, you don’t go with the standard scripted “sorry for the inconvenience” response. But, apparently, that’s not how Dell handled things this time (thanks to Mike Mozart for the pointer):

In case you can’t read that, Wismeijer complained on Twitter about finding out that his Dell server is bugged by the NSA (which might be an exaggeration…) and included the @DellCares account in his tweet. That account wrote:

Thank you for reaching out and regret the inconvenience. Our colleagues at @dellcarespro will be able to help you out.

Wismeijer responded with an expected level of anger. Not only is “regret the inconvenience” probably the inappropriate response to a customer complaining about the NSA installing malware, but the idea that Dell support “will be able to help you out” is similarly questionable.

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Companies: dell

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Comments on “Dell's Twitter Account Apologizes For The 'Inconvenience' Of Helping NSA Install Spyware”

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54 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: You missed a fine point, and need a translation..

To be even more accurate, they’ll take your money, tell you they got rid of the offending ‘feature’, and during the ‘removal’ process install even more invasive programs/code, as obviously the only person who would ever object to such spying is someone up to no good. /s

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: You missed a fine point, and need a translation..

they’ll take your money, tell you they got rid of the offending ‘feature’, and during the ‘removal’ process install even more invasive programs

You make that sound bad, but it is standard industry practice, called an ‘upgrade’. 🙂

If the improved spyware does not perform to your satisfaction, please return it to your local NSA for repair.

anonymouse says:

Re: sidenote

You need to sort out your device that you are viewing the articles on, i have a basic pc with standard firefox and i see this twitter screenshot with no problem,just tried on my windows8 phone and i also see it. maybe it is your device blocking images or configured not to allow images to be viewed, Mike has done his job and embedded the screenshot it is not his fault you do not know how to use the technology you have purchased be it a phone or tablet or watch or even your tv all which have setting that should not be touched unless you have a problem like you are having, then you need to go and look at your settings and look for on that block or does not download images that are embedded, if a standard firefox browser like i am using can display the image you have the problem not Mike…

Anonymous Coward says:

so what was going to happen then? was permission going to be asked for to remove the NSA ‘bug’ and when told ‘NO’ would lie again to the customer?
DELL and Twitter should now suffer the consequences and the best way for that to happen is a complete ban on the purchasing and use of the products! the only way any of the companies that have gone down the road of pissing on customers in favour of aiding the NSA and probably other security agencies, is to hit them as hard as possible in the pocket!

anonymouse says:

Re: Re:

This story is nonsenses yes the dell twitter personnel should not have a bot answering posts but have real people deciding whether it is wise to actually even acknowledge the post.

This is a non story where a bot advised the twitter universe to contact support to discuss the matter no more.

Must be a very slow news week to have to post this as a story.

KoD (profile) says:

Re: Re: Fixed that for you.

Thank you, sir.

That is maddening, especially when you email a software company about a bug that is hindering your use of their software and all you ever get back is that autoreply garbage… I have purchased paid versions of apps simply because of the great customer support. Ti Backup is an excellent example of this. Prompt response = I pay them money.

streetlight (profile) says:

Who will buy used Dell servers?

Those Dell servers in use are now worthless – no one’s going to buy them. Trust Dell in the pay of NSA to remove the offending malware, I don’t think so. What about folks accessing those servers on the public Internet? Dell’s been on the precipice for sometime and this may destroy their server business and cause them to fall over that cliff. I love my Dell laptop, but probably won’t be getting another one any time soon. Good bye, Dell.

KoD (profile) says:

Re: Who will buy used Dell servers?

I had previously enjoyed owning a Dell laptop as well, but that is over now. Dell used to be on my short list of acceptable preassembled computers. HP has horrible customer service (“Would you like to pay $50 for me to read you the troubleshooting section from the manual we should have included with your device?”), Toshiba’s always seemed to burnout too early, but Dell always seemed to stand up to my abuses…

But seriously, this has to be a knife to Dell’s jugular (much like the one in the backs of their customers…). Can there be a less forgiveable crime in the netsec industry? You label your product as a antidote when really it is a poison. To me, this means game over for Dell. Smfh…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Who will buy used Dell servers?

There are a lot of tech companies who are going to pay for their treason. They are also committing a dreadfully common cardinal sin in business: forgetting that the real boss is always your customers.

Hopefully we’ll see a lot of corporations die and leave a heavy legacy of dread amongst the business world. Even in the myopic short-term corporate world, all one will have to do to make them think twice about selling out their customers is whisper a name like “Dell”, “Microsoft”, or any other of the fallen titans condemned to Tartarus.

Mr. Applegate says:

Re: Re:

It is a crime to ‘reverse engineer’ to even look for the bugs (assuming it is encrypted in any way). So how can you even find firmware that you know is not compromised? You can’t without breaking the law, even then it will take very knowledgeable people a long time to determine if your firmware is bug free. Even longer if you need to re-write it yourself.

Mr. Applegate says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It is my understanding that the only legal way to reverse engineer under DMCA is “For Inter-operability between software components.” and that any other use would be illegal.

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-105publ304/pdf/PLAW-105publ304.pdf

“(f ) REVERSE ENGINEERING.?(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a)(1)(A), a person who has lawfully obtained the right to use a copy of a computer program may circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a particular portion of that program for the sole purpose of identifying and analyzing those elements of the program that are necessary to achieve interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs, and that have not previously been 112 STAT. 2867PUBLIC LAW 105?304?OCT. 28, 1998 readily available to the person engaging in the circumvention, to
the extent any such acts of identification and analysis do not constitute infringement under this title.”

Is that understanding incorrect, or has it been superseded?

Jeff Kennedy says:

What do you expect?

So you reach out to a Social Media person on Twitter about an alleged NSA spy bug on your computer – what kind of response did you f**king expect?!?!

“Oh, sorry about that Sir, we’ve forwarded this concern on to the Police, FBI, CIA and N……” F**king morons.

Or, how about another response in 160 characters or less… “Dell takes customer privacy and security very seriously, we can confirm that these claims are not true” or some other corporate spin. F**k!!!

RubyPanther says:

Not Sure

Reading the tweet a few more times, I’m less and less sure what the droid really meant. Less than 500 words, what can you really say? “Thank you for reaching out and regret the inconvenience [to us in having to deal with governmental BS]. Our colleagues at @dellcarespro will be able to help you out [in whatever way they can that you agree to, such as selling a replacement BIOS of a different version.]”

I think it just… came out wrong in the shortening. It is kindof a tossup which wtf these bottom tier droids blow up with. But they didn’t actually say explicitly who is being inconvenienced, only that the information provided by the person was a source of some inconvenience of a regrettable nature.

BillatDell (profile) says:

Dell's response

We have posted an official response to the concerns expressed about this issue.
http://en.community.dell.com/dell-blogs/direct2dell/b/direct2dell/archive/2013/12/30/comment-on-der-spiegel-article-regarding-nsa-tao-organization.aspx
“Dell is aware of a story originally reported by Der Spiegel, which has subsequently been picked up in other media outlets, that refers to alleged security ?backdoors? implanted by the United States National Security Agency into products from several technology companies, including Dell.

Dell has a long-standing commitment to design, build and ship secure products and quickly address instances when issues are discovered. Our highest priority is the protection of customer data and information, which is reflected in our robust and comprehensive privacy and information security program and policies. We take very seriously any issues that may impact the integrity of our products or customer security and privacy. Should we become aware of a possible vulnerability in any of Dell?s products we will communicate with our customers in a transparent manner as we have done in the past.

Dell does not work with any government ? United States or otherwise ? to compromise our products to make them potentially vulnerable for exploit. This includes ?software implants? or so-called ?backdoors? for any purpose whatsoever.”

Sean says:

This is a crime

Thanks Dell for admitting to putting it there. This is a crime that you have committed. You knowingly assisted the NSA to commit a crime that you are also complicit in and cannot actually blame the criminals at the NSA who perpetrated this against the American people because you knew, or should have known, it was a crime when you did it.

I’m thinking a massive class action civil case that we can bankrupt Dell with. They are a terrible company to do business with. The way they treated my mother just before she died was atrocious.

Took all her money for a computer that, even being a 20 year advanced tech, I was unable to find anyone on Dell’s “phone support” that either knew what to do, cared about fixing the problem, or was not otherwise obvious in their disinterest in my mother having a pc to use. I was lied to over and over, abused by contentious support people, and left to figure it out without any tech support from them. Just political bullshit and pretending to care by transferring over and over to equally stupid people. Never again Dell. Never never never.

Multiple agents telling same lies in same order proves they train them to lie.

The crime is one that is not only punishable by quite a few years in prison for a maximum sentence and per occurrence, it is one that our new Attorney General will be happy to help you with. Good riddance DELL for helping NSA spying on US citizens. You didn’t report the crime but cooperated with it and the directors of Dell need to see a prison cell for many years.

Thanks Edward Snowden for outing these bastards and for their boldness in admitting their crimes as though they are above the law. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as we have a new sheriff in town in a few days.

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