Microsoft sued for 'unfair and deceptive business practices'

A Los Angeles woman who fell victim to hackers has sued Microsoft seeking damages and an order requiring the supplier to improve...

A Los Angeles woman who fell victim to hackers has sued Microsoft seeking damages and an order requiring the supplier to improve its security notification system.

The suit claims that Microsoft's "eclipsing dominance in desktop software has created a global security risk" as the world's computer networks are now susceptible to "massive, cascading failures".

The software company is charged with violating California laws by "unfair and deceptive business practices".

The case was filed on behalf of the Los Angeles woman, but a request has been entered to certify the case as a class action, said Dana Taschner, the plaintiff's lawyer.

"We represented an individual plaintiff who is also seeking to be a class representative on behalf of all US purchasers of Microsoft operating system software," he said.

Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake said the company received the complaint and is reviewing it. Based on an initial review, Microsoft plans to fight the attempt to certify the suit as a class action, Drake said.

Microsoft also said the lawsuit "misses the point", because the problems are caused by viruses and hackers, which are the result of criminal acts by the people who write viruses and break into computers. 

The Los Angeles woman suing Microsoft was a victim of identity theft, Taschner said.

"She works on her home computer and somehow her system was hacked and her name and social security number were used to access bank accounts and other services," he said.

Microsoft makes it too hard for consumers like the plaintiff to secure their systems, Taschner said.

"We are asking the court to issue an order requiring Microsoft to give better notice. The hackers are faster on the uptake than the consumer; in a strange way, the Microsoft alerts are actually causing more harm than good."

Microsoft's Drake said the company has made security a top priority and is committed to developing the most secure software possible and making it easier for customers to protect themselves against attacks "launched by malicious law-breakers".

Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service

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