Highest profile software failures of 2010

SQS Software Quality Systems compiled a list of the worst software failures of 2010 that have damaged reputations, impacted negatively on finances and caused stress to users.

1. Car manufacturer – brake recall
Recall of two major car brands due to anti-lock brake system defect.

2. Wrong organs removed from donors
Faulty software led to the removal of the wrong organs from 25 donors in the UK. The error originated in faulty data conversion software that was used to upload information on donation preference.

3. Government department prevents completion of online tax returns
Hundreds of people are unable to complete their tax returns online in due to a software bug that has locked users out of their online accounts.

4. Stock exchange
A stock exchange suffered technical glitches during the first phase of its high-profile migration to new technology, trading on its alternative trading platform starting more than an hour late as a result of the problem.

5. Software glitch causes outage for thousands of GPS receivers
While installing software upgrades to ground control stations for a new fleet of GPS satellites, inspectors discovered a glitch in software compatibility that rendered up to 10,000 GPS receivers dark for at least two weeks.

6. Alarm clock bug in mobile phone handset
The bug caused the handset’s alarm function to stop working correctly. When the clocks changed for Daylight saving, the time automatically updated but the alarm function did not.

7. Year 2010 bug strikes bank cards
A faulty microchip made bank cards unreadable, as they weren’t able to recognize the year 2010, causing chaos in one European country. The bug affected up to 30 million debit and credit cards.

8. Privacy lost on social networking site
Users could view what should have been private chats between their friends, as well as view their pending friend requests.

9. Unauthorized access to mobile phone handset
The bug allowed anyone to bypass the 4-digit passcode lock in order to access data on the phone. This granted unauthorized access to contacts and voicemails.

10. Phones become a remote bugging device
A smartphone user”s every word could be recorded and transmitted back to a hacker. The attack (once executed) was trivial to perform.

Although there are numerous software bugs, some bugs occur more commonly and frequently cause software failures. Code samples below demonstrate how easy it is to inadvertently introduce a bug that could cause an IT system to freeze up.

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