(Editor’s Note: the following is a brief extract of a January 18, 2016 Computerworld UK article. The original, with links to related articles, is available at http://www.computerworlduk.com/galleries/infrastructure/top-10-software-failures-of-2014-3599618/#1)
This year technology has seen great advances but has also witnessed some pretty major failures! Let’s take a look back at the worst software failures of 2015. We look at the most disastrous failures of the past year…
Top software failures 2016: Nest thermostat leaves users in the cold
In mid-January 2016 the Nest ‘smart’ thermostat (owned by Google) was hit with a software glitch which left users, literally, out in the cold.
A software update went wrong, forcing the device’s batteries to drain and leaving it unable to control temperature – so customers were unable to heat their homes or get hot water on one of the coldest weekends of the year so far.
Nest said the fault had been caused by a December 4.0 firmware update, plus issues such as old air filters or incompatible boilers. It has since rolled out a 4.0.1 software update which it says has solved the issue for 99.5 percent of affected customers.
Top software failures 2016: HSBC suffers major outage
Less than a week into 2016, HSBC became the first bank to suffer a major IT outage. Millions of the bank’s customers were unable to access online accounts. Services only returned to normal after a two-day outage.
The bank’s chief operating officer Jack Hackett blamed a “complex technical issue” with its internal systems.
Top software failures 2015: Glitch releases US prisoners early
In December 2015 a glitch caused more than 3,200 US prisoners to be released early. The software calculates a prisoner’s sentence depending on good/bad behaviour and was introduced in 2002.
According to reports, the problem has been ongoing for 13 years until a new IT boss was appointed and informed the governor’s office. It is estimated that on average prisoners were released 49 days early.
Top software failures 2015: HSBC business banking glitch
HSBC again! In August 2015 a reported 275,000 individual payments failed to be processed by HSBC, which left many potentially without pay before the Bank Holiday weekend. The cause of this major failure was a problem with its electronic payment system for its business banking users which affected salary payments.
Bacs is the payment system that is used for payment processes across the UK is reported to have picked up on the issue but noted that it was an ‘isolated issue’.
Top software failures 2015: Government divorce software failure
The government’s online calculator for calculating spouses’ financial worth was hit with a Form E fault meaning that those calculations were wrong for thousands of couples that have been divorced in the past 20 months.
According to reports this error has been inflating spouses’ finances since April 2014 but was only brought to like in December 2015.
According to the Office of National Statistics there were 114,720 divorces in England and Wales in 2013 so the damage that this fault has caused is yet to be fully revealed.
Top software failures 2015: 600,000 RBS payments go missing
In June 2015 about 600,000 payments failed to enter the accounts of RBS overnight – including wages and benefit payments. Many took several days to come through. The bank’s chief admin officer said a “technology fault meant we could not ingest a file from a third-party provider” but did not provide much further detail on the root cause. In 2012 6.5 million RBS customers experienced an outage due to batch scheduling software, a glitch for which the bank was subsequently fined £56 million.
(Editor’s Note: The original article gives a range of further software failures from 2015 and the option to revisit the software failures of 2014. Hopefully, some lessons are being learned.)