UPDATE: For all the latest and “greatest” software fails, read Software Fail Report: 2016 in Review.

 

For those of us (i.e: me) who find terms like ‘scrum master’ and ‘continuous testing’ to be a little mysterious, the idea of software testing can be a bit hard to grasp. Sure, it makes sense that you need to check over your software before releasing it to the public, but after that, testing is done, right?

Not quite. At the pace that companies are innovating, technology is progressing, and consumer expectations are growing, the demand for new and updated software is heavy. And testing-newbie that I may be, I know as well as anyone else that it’s kind of lame when an app or program doesn’t work as expected.

However while my grievances over an app crashing may be minor, some software failures have catastrophic repercussions.

Here at Tricentis, we are all about software testing. We understand firsthand the necessities inherent in software testing, which is why we created Tosca Testsuite, an awesome program that makes your tests easier, more efficient, and minimizes the risk of your software having an issue worthy of our annual list of Top 10 Software Fails.

10. Software Glitch Sends Bank Statements to the Wrong People

A Swiss bank found themselves in a pinch in early 2014 when they discovered that their software system had issued end-of-the-year bank statements addressed to the wrong people. Customers of the bank reported receiving, along with their own statement, a handful of statements containing details for other bank patrons. Uh oh. You may have received your correct information, but who else received it as well? Can’t assume everyone is as nice as you. Source.

9. Bar Exam Software Failure

In August of 2014 thousands of law students across the United States pressed “submit” on their completed exam files only to find that their tests were not being accepted by the software. None too surprisingly, the Bar Exam software now finds themselves facing multiple lawsuits filed by disgruntled would-be lawyers. Source.

8. London Airspace Closed Due to Software Malfunction

Typically flights are canceled due to weather concerns – not software. Earlier this December an air traffic control center was forced to close London Airspace when the software managing the arrivals and departures began to malfunction. While the software was repaired and running again within record speed, the repercussions were far reaching. Heathrow reported canceling over 50 flights with multiple flights turned back to their originating destinations. Source.

7. Faulty Casino Software Targets Compulsive Gamblers

Self-identified “compulsive gamblers” registered on a do-not-contact list with an American based entertainment and gaming company in an attempt to avoid ads that would trigger their addiction. Unfortunately their good intentions backfired when a software glitch reversed the data and sent promotional gambling emails to the very people they were trying to avoid. Source.

6. Software Glitch Accidentally Releases Prisoners

Over 20 inmates in Dallas, Texas, were mistakenly released this past June during a software transition. The local police force claims that incorrect information within the new system misled authorities into releasing inmates facing charges from property crime to domestic violence. Dallas police stated at the time that they are working to relocate and arrest the felons. Source.

5. Software Error Assigns Wrong Pictures to Drivers’ Licenses

Several Arizona residents received drivers’ licenses this summer that contained all the correct information…except for the picture. Investigating the issue, the problem was linked back to the camera-computer connection being used to take the license pictures – a delay in transferring the saved image resulted in the photographs being attached to the previous person’s file…and thus Jane received a license looking very much like a Bob. That is a lot worse than a bad hair day. Source.

4. Software Malfunction Prevents Callers from Reaching 911

A third party call center that directs and assigns calls to the 911 emergency line reported a software malfunction that caused thousands of calls for help to drop on April 9th. According to reports the software used to track and assign the calls had a built-in counter that maxed out at 40 million calls. Once the 40 millionth call had been placed, the calls bottlenecked cutting off over 11 million people in over seven states from the emergency hotline. Source.

3. Thieves Leverage Software Override to Clean Out Casinos

A software override code for a specific brand of video roulette machines was released online, prompting a coordinated group of thieves to pull off an Ocean’s Eleven-worthy heist. According to reports, the override code caused the machines to dispense money when the numbers 1-9-3-6 were pressed before pulling the lever. The robbery targeted hundreds of casinos across Germany, some casinos losing as much as €100,000 in a night. Source.

2. Airline Software Flaw Makes Boarding Passes Accessible to Public

An international airline recently discovered a software security flaw that allows anyone with a computer and valid URL to access (and potentially change) flight boarding passes. While the airline was able to quickly issue a fix and does not believe that flight security has been compromised, the issue does raise the question of data security as air travel becomes increasingly reliant on software programs to manage their complexities. Source.

1. Error in Bitcoin Software Leads to Market Crash

As of February 2014, Mt. Gox, a Bitcoin exchange company based in Japan, closed its doors after declaring bankruptcy, saying it could not account for its $474 million in Bitcoin and customer investment. While questions still remain as to the cause of Mt. Gox’s dramatic collapse, suspicions swirl that the company had been slowly bleeding funds to hackers as a result of a previously discovered “transaction malleability” flaw in the software. Source.

 

More in this series

Software Failures of 2014: Finance Edition

Software Fail Watch: 2015 in Review

Software Fail Watch 2016, Quarter One

Software Fail Watch 2016, Quarter Two

Software Fail Watch 2016, Quarter Three

Don’t want to end up on a list like this?

Tricentis Tosca specializes in enabling large enterprises to improve the quality of their applications by equipping them to optimize, manage, and automate their software testing.

 

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