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November 2003

Vendor liability: Should we be suing for security?

Buoyed by a filmmaker's recent lawsuit targeting vulnerabilities in Microsoft's software, security industry leaders are calling on the courts to help raise software vendors' accountability for damages caused by flawed products. Sun Microsystems CSO Whitfield Diffie told attendees at the Information Security Solutions Europe (ISSE) event in Vienna last month that software vendors should be held liable for flaws -- a philosophy he's expressed more than once in the last few years. "Currently, it's a case of firms saying, 'You pay. We promise you nothing. Have fun.' But we need to put in place legal targets -- perhaps for 2010 or 2015 -- and improve our methodology to provide much higher security standards if we are to accept liability," Diffie said, according to a British news report. Diffie's remarks come just weeks after Marcy Levitas Hamilton of Los Angeles filed a potential class-action lawsuit against Microsoft, contending that Microsoft's unfair business practices are forcing consumers to use insecure software. The plaintiff ...

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