Microsoft Finally Sued Over Security Vulnerabilities

from the taking-action dept

Every time there’s a new Microsoft security vulnerability found (way, way, way too often) someone comes out with a rant on why software makers should be liable for their flaws and how Microsoft has been criminally negligent, etc, etc, etc. Yet they never do anything about it. Usually, they complain about software licensing policies that they say make it impossible to sue. Now someone is finally stepping up to the plate to test out that theory, and it’s not some ranting geek teenager. A fifty-year-old mother of two has decided to sue Microsoft for some of its security vulnerabilities, saying they violated California laws for unfair and deceptive business practices. She was apparently a victim of identity theft, which she blames on Microsoft for not properly securing their operating system. Might be a bit of a stretch. Microsoft’s initial response is that any criminal activity has been the result of hackers and virus writers, and not themselves.

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Comments on “Microsoft Finally Sued Over Security Vulnerabilities”

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Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

Warranty or Guarantee?

Did the woman who’s ID was stolen find the clause, section, paragraph, etc. in the software license that says “We here at Microsoft guarantee our software to be 100% free of bugs and glaring security vulnerabilities.”?

Did she have a firewall installed?

Anti-virus software?

Was she one of those people who opens every single random e-mail attachment sent to her without even thinking about it?

Did she take even one step to protect her information online?

If you buy a car and it explodes for no apparent reason and you are injured or killed, is the auto manufacturer responsible? You becha. Why? Because there are consumer safety laws on the books that say “if you make are cars, it’s your responsibility to make them safe, and if you choose not to, we can sue you”.

If you buy a car, take it home, remove the doors, bust out the windshield, cut out the safety belts and then drive around at a high rate of speed until you slam into an unmovable object and are thrown from the vehicle, can you sue the manufacturer? Sure you can (this is California we’re talking about), but do you really think you’ll win? Unlikely.

I don’t know of any consumer protection laws that cover software. It seems to me that the woman should take the money she used on her lawyer and give it to a local politician as a ‘campaign contribution’ and ask him to create legislation that requires similar responsibility of software makers.

Without existing legislation in place, her lawsuit isn’t really valid.

itchyfish says:

Re: Warranty or Guarantee?

At what point in time did firewalls, anti-virus, and not opening emails become a *requirement* for operating a computer? Does MS tell you that they are *required*? Or does MS give the impression through marketing that WinXP is all you need for “secure computing”?

While I agree that intelligent computing should be practiced, I don’t think that’s the point of the lawsuit. It’s about the consumers finally realizing and understanding that software has for many years escaped consumer protection. It’s about time to send a message that things have to change.

June says:

Re: Sotware Warranty?

I think there ARE laws (at least in California) that prohibit a company from disclaiming a basic warranty of merchantability, i.e. a product may not intentionally cause damage, or contain known but hidden defects. I expect some rulings that once a design error such as buffer overrun is discovered, it must be repaired and prevented in all subsequent software. Check also under “fraud” and “negligence”.

Tony Lawrence (user link) says:

Suing Microsoft

What I’ve never understood is why innocent third parties who are damaged by SoBig, Swen etc. can’t sue. The EULA may prevent the person who used the software from suing Microsoft, but I don’t see that it protects them from third parties.

As to the typical stuff about “you can’t sue GM if you were operating at 90 MPH without seatbelts”, that may be true, but is there anything plastered all over MSOFT software warning people to use firewwalls and virus software? Cars have all sorts of warning stickers about safe operation – does Microsoft? (Actually asking: I haven’t installed any in quite some time now).

Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

Re: Suing Microsoft

In response to your question about warning stickers… no, there isn’t…

But, warning stickers only go so far to protect you from liability. There was a story in NY years ago about an older Korean (IIRC) gentleman who climbed over a barbed wire fence in a subway station and peed on the third rail and was killed. The family sued and WON because the warning signs that said “DANGER! KEEP OUT! HIGH VOLTAGE!” etc. weren’t printed in Korean.

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