We all know what it is like to fill out a form only to find that it stalls upon hitting “submit”. These glitches may be a minor annoyance to us, the everyday consumer, but to the business in question, those minor errors can compound into huge financial losses. Sometimes though, those software malfunctions are not minor – they are catastrophic.
Here at Tricentis, we are passionate about software testing. It’s who we are. For your reading pleasure, we have collected a wide assortment of news stories from 2014, chronicling a year of intrepid innovation and software fails. Today we take a look at the finance industry: that titan of global power and influence, all resting on the resilience of a computer chip.
Most of us don’t even know how to use an Abacus, much less what it’s called, or that it’s not a toy for toddlers designed by Ikea. For those of you like me, you might recognize it by its other technical name: “one of those old counting things with the balls on it.” The days of analogue math are long gone; which in turn means you would be hard pressed to find a bank doing its accounting by hand. Instead we place the full weight of the world’s collective finances in the capable hands of software. It counts our money, tracks our transactions, payments, bills, and check deposits – nearly every aspect of a bank’s existence is dictated by the mechanisms of software. What happens when that software breaks down?
Swiss Bank Coop Sends Account Statements to the Wrong Account Holders
The Swiss Bank Coop encountered a breach in banking privacy when the bank mistakenly sent out end-of-year statements addressed to the wrong people. The error, blamed on a bug in the bank’s software, resulted in thousands of Bank Coop customers receiving not only their own, but also several bank statements belonging to other account holders. Though it is small in the broader spectrum of finance, the mistake could be devastating to Bank Coop’s reputation, not to mention for any account holder whose information fell into less than honest hands.
Brewin Dolphin Takes Financial Hit from Ill Advised Software Investment
Brewin Dolphin, a British investment and financial planning firm, announced the cancelation of a new back office IT software slotted to replace their current system in hopes of improving the efficiency of their business processes. The shift to the new software had been in the works for three years before the management discovered “issues” with the software, causing them to question the ability of the software to support their financial needs. Brewin Dolphin has opted to scrap the new software system, taking a 32 million Pound loss in 2014 with an additional 15 million Pounds of losses within the next ten years.
Russian Stock Market Closes Due to Software Error
Russia’s stock market ground to a halt for two hours this past July due to a software error. The market closed early at 4:00 PM after a software malfunction affecting the bond and equity markets was discovered. Though the Russian market claims that no lasting repercussions resulted from the error, Russia found itself walking a fine fiscal line as they faced E.U. and U.S. sanctions from the ongoing tensions with Ukraine. Source
The Royal Bank of Scotland Fined After Users Cannot Access Accounts
The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) faced a 56 million British Pound fine after a software error shut down access to user accounts. Minor though the issue may initially seem, the error reportedly affected 6.5 million customers over a course of weeks, and caused problems ranging from accessing account bal-ances and withdrawing cash, to the inability to make timely mortgage payments. Many organizations banking with RBS also found themselves unable to fulfill payroll commitments to their employees. Source
Singapore Stock Exchange Shuts Down Due to Software Glitch
The Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) experienced a temporary shut down early this past December due to a software malfunction. Though SGX remains tight-lipped about the error that caused the shutdown, the exchange admitted to the need to rectify an issue that had stemmed in the previous days, a three hour outage that did not fail to raise animosity from Singapore’s central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Source
Mt. Gox Implodes and Crashes the Bitcoin Market
Mt. Gox, the Bitcoin exchange giant holding an estimated 70% of the cyber-currency, imploded dramatically in early 2014. The story of Mt. Gox’s implosion, though still a bit mysterious, is filled with twists, turns, hackers, and enough intrigue for a Hollywood blockbuster film. The story starts with a known software defect in Bitcoin called “transaction malleability.” In essence the defect is a hole in transaction security that can be leveraged by hackers to execute fraudulent withdrawals. In February, Mt. Gox suspended all withdrawals and trading while investigating the transaction malleability. During this time the Bitcoin market crashed, losing two-thirds of its market value. Within a matter of weeks the website went blank, and Mt. Gox filed for bankruptcy 3 days later. All told, Mt. Gox lost $474 million in Bitcoin and over $27 million in customer’s cash deposits – likely never to be reclaimed by those who invested in Bitcoin. Source 1
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