SQS Identifies Top 10 High Profile Software Blunders Of 2012

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The software naughty step awaits the unnamed companies who played silly bug-ers this year

Software worries can keep IT managers awake at night and now, just to add to their stress levels, SQS Software Quality Systems has identified the highest profile software failures of 2012.

SQS specialises in software quality and is headquartered in Germany, although it also has a sizeable operation in the UK and is listed on AIM. Over the past 12 months, it has compiled a list of what it thinks were the worst software blunders this year.

Banking woes

It has stopped short of a public shaming, however, by not naming names, presumably in order to spare the blushes of the organisations involved – and possible litigation.

“This is the third year we’ve asked SQS consultants to vote on their top 10 software bugs and the results demonstrate that software failures continue to affect businesses and consumers,” said Stephen Fice, CEO of SQS in UK, Ireland, India and South Africa. “While businesses lose out financially and suffer reputational damage, in almost every case, software bugs cause stress and inconvenience to consumers.”

According to SQS, its annual survey is based on major software failures throughout 2012, and has exposed the ongoing problems within the financial and banking sector, which has dominated the software glitch top ten lists over the past three years.

Software problems within the financial services sector represent five of the top 10 in the 2012 survey. SQS told ChannelBiz UK that it believes one of the major causes of failure here is because legacy systems in banks and trading firms are coming to the end of their life and are not being updated or replaced due to financial constraints.

“Each of these 2012 software failures could easily have been avoided through an effective quality management strategy identifying and resolving potential glitches before they appear,” Fice said.

Top 10 countdown

So without further ado, here is the SQS list of the top 10 software failures in 2012 in reverse order. See if you can guess the companies’ names.

10  Leap Year bugs hit banking and healthcare payment systems. A leading multinational corporation’s cloud computing service outage, which affected Governments and consumers, was caused by the additional day in February this year. The same leap year date bug also affected an Australian payment system used by the health industry, resulting in 150,000 customers being prevented from using private health care cards for medical transactions for two days.

 9  Utility billing nightmare. An Australian energy company sent thousands of customers late payment charges for bills they didn’t receive due to a computer glitch, while a Germany utility company overcharged 94,000 of its customers due to a computer glitch that incorrectly charged exit fees, costing the energy supplier $2.24 million (£1.4m) in settlement payouts.

 8  Gambler loses winnings to computer virus. A gambler, who was under the impression he had won just over $1 million (£620,000), was told by a High Court that, despite his anticipated windfall showing in the online game he had played, he was not a millionaire after all. A software error mistakenly reported his winnings as much higher than they actually were and, due to this contingency being covered in the game’s terms and conditions, he could not legally claim his anticipated prize.

 7  Teething problems for new revenue service software system. After upgrading its software and revenue service system, at an estimated cost of $1.3 billion (£806m) through 2024, to promote e-filing of tax returns, the US revenue service saw delays in handling electronic tax returns, with 85 percent of refunds delayed by over 23 days.

 6  Security staff shortage at major international sports event. An internal computer systems problem resulted in miscalculation of the number of security staff required to support an international sports event this summer. This Olympian internal staffing miscalculation resulted in members of the armed forces being drafted in to act as security staff.

 5  US elections vote glitch. Computer problems drew complaints across the US during the 2012 elections, with numerous problems with voting machine glitches reported by voters. An example was touchscreen errors automatically changing the vote from one candidate to another and not allowing voters to reselect or correct the error.

 4  Social networking giant IPO trading glitch. Technology problems affected trading in millions of shares of a popular social media website, after software glitches caused a malfunction in the trading system’s design for processing orders and cancellations, meaning orders were processed incorrectly, if at all. Trades in as many as 30 million shares were affected by the glitch.

 3  IPO withdrawn because of technical failure. A stock trading business launching its initial public offering on its own trading system was forced to withdraw its IPO after an embarrassing computer glitch caused a serious technical failure on its own exchange. A system problem occurred as soon as the exchange tried to open the ticker symbol of the stock, failing to roll into a continuous trading pattern as it was supposed to, halting the trading on the stock before it had even started trading.

 2  Software glitch costs trading firm $440million (£273m) in 45 minutes. According to SQS, a trading firm’s newly-installed software resulted in a $440 million loss after it rapidly bought and sold large volumes of over a hundred different stocks in 45 minutes using a flawed software algorithm that bought the shares at market price then sold at the bid price – instantly losing a few cents on each trade. The rapid trades pushed the price of the stocks up, resulting in spectacular losses for the trading firm when it had to sell the overvalued stocks back into the market at a lower price.

 1  Airline glitch strands passengers. For the third time in 2012, a computer glitch wreaked havoc on thousands of travellers with a US airline, delaying flights for hours. A glitch in the dispatch system software resulted in hundreds of delayed flights across the US and internationally. The two hour outage held up 636 of the 5,679 scheduled flights and resulted in 10 flights being cancelled altogether.


Author: Tom Jowitt
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