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Software failures

And the “Most Shocking Software Failure” Award Goes To…

The film awards season may be over, but the software fail season never ends! Let’s take a look at the software failure nominees in two categories: Most Shocking Software Fail and Biggest Software Fails That (Almost) Went Unnoticed.

These—and all too many other software fail nominees—are featured in the 24-page Tricentis software fail report.

Most Shocking Software Fails

UK’s National Health Service admitted to mis-prescribing medication to over 300,000 heart patients due to a software error. SystmOne, the software used to calculate the risk of a heart attack, has reportedly produced incorrect results since 2009, leading to patients suffering from otherwise preventable heart attacks or strokes, or needlessly dealing with the serious side-effects of taking unnecessary medication.

Fiat Chrysler recalled over 1 million vehicles after a government investigation revealed that a gear-shift flaw that resulted in 266 accidents, 68 injuries, and at least 1 death (of a celebrity, no less). A software update was issued to fix the gear-shift flaw after recalling the vehicles, however the update reportedly failed to work for a further 29,000 vehicles.

A security researcher disclosed a firmware bug found in CCTV point-of-sale security cameras sold by over 70 different vendors. The bug, nicknamed ”Backoff”, is suspected to be a contributing factor to the spate of credit card breaches that occurred in major retailers in the past years. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has warned that up to 1,000 US businesses may be infected with the bug.

An Australian hospital suffered a string of software outages, the longest lasting for 10 hours in early November. The software fail reportedly threw the hospital in chaos, cutting off access to patient records and medication, and forcing staff to admit and track patients by hand. The hospital administration has reportedly complained that the new software (implemented in June) will eventually have “fatal consequences” for patients if not fixed soon.

The state of Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) was revealed of having accused over 20,000 innocent people of fraud thanks to a faulty automated software system. Midas, the data analysis system used, was wrongly accusing claimants of fraud in a whopping 93% of cases, resulting in unemployed persons losing their benefits and facing fines of up to $100,000 USD. The system, implemented in 2013, had been operating unchecked until 2015, when Michigan’s auditor general issued a scathing report on the system’s shortcomings.

Biggest Software Fails That (Almost) Went Unnoticed

CGTechnology, a sports gambling company, paid a fine of $1.5 million USD and fired it‘s CEO after willfully ignoring a software glitch that underpaid bettors $700,000 USD in winnings. Not only was the company accused of purposefully avoiding fixing the bug, but also of interfering with the Nevada Gaming Control Board‘s investigations into the matter.

Worldpay, a UK-based payment processing firm that processes over 36 million payments per day, experienced a software fail that crippled their services for over three weeks. The bug was traced back to server software update that resulted in an overload of error messages. The failure comes as a particular embarrassment after the enterprise had recently invested over $500 million USD in updating the system’s software.

A secretive database containing 2.2 million names of people suspected of terrorism and organized crime was leaked into the public domain in July 2016. The database, which is managed by Thomson Reuters and used by banks and intelligence agencies alike, was not hacked (as might be expected), but simply dropped into the public sphere after an unexplained “database software error” occurred.

The DAO, an investment fund containing Ethereum, Bitcoin’s rival crypto-currency, was robbed of over $50 million USD worth of “Ether” in late June. Not only did the hackers manage to successfully exploit the fund’s security vulnerabilities, but the necessary patch was so complicated that developers could not fix the vulnerability for several days after the theft, in which time, a half-dozen smaller copy cat heists occurred.

A teenager in Arizona faced three felony charges after creating a bug that took out 911 emergency phone services in three states. The 18 year old created a “non-harmful” iOS bug in an attempt to win a bounty from Apple’s bug-hunting program. The bug, which he shared via a link on Twitter, caused iPhones to call 911 on repeat until the phone was shut off. The link was reportedly opened thousands of times, swamping local 911 emergency services with hundreds of hang-up calls per minute.

And the Winner is…

Which software fail gets your vote in each of the above categories? Share your thoughts in the comments section. Once a winner is determined, we’ll update this post with the results.

Would you rather focus on the flip side of this coin—software testing tools rather than software testing fails? If so, see what test automation tools garnered the most accolades in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Software Test Automation and Forrester’s Wave for Functional Test Automation Tools.


Stay tuned for more blogs on the software fail watch findings… or download the complete Software Fail Watch report now.