Top 10 Mega Software failures of 2014

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Software systems have become the backbone of almost all the organizations worldwide and how much ever you try to avoid them you end up using software systems in your daily life as a person and as an organization. With over 2.9 billion* of world population on Internet and rapid modernization of countries across the world, it has become inevitable to avoid the software footprint in your everyday life. Adoption of smartphones has made access to software applications more of a convenience and necessity.

With mission critical and high-risk applications which have human lives and resources on risk depending on software applications, testing not only for expected but aiming for zero defects is required. We have listed the Top 10 Mega software failures of 2014 which resulted in severe disruption and loss of resources in the current year which could have been avoided.

failure-1Amazon Christmas Glitch: It was quite a surprise for vendors to see their products on sale for just One penny in Amazon marketplace. It was a festive bonanza for shoppers and many picked up items as expensive as mobile phones for just 1 penny. This glitch was attributed to a bug in amazon price comparison software and resulted in $100,000 for the vendors.


Air traffic control centre NATS: Another Christmas incident which affected the travel plans of more than 10000 passengers and leading to heavy delays was attributed to one line of software code which was unaltered since late 1960 and written in defunct language Jovial.

failure-3Microsoft Azure Crashes: Microsoft’s office 365, Xbox live gaming and Websites using the Azure platform crashed due a bug in the famous cloud computing platform. Many customers were unable to access the service due to this glitch which was following a performance update. On the Azure blog, Microsoft stated: “The configuration change for the Blob [Binary Large Object] front-ends exposed a bug in the Blob front-ends, which had been previously performing as expected.” Service was down for more than 11 hours.


Code Spaces: This is considered as one of the biggest software breach which happened in the famous Amazon cloud service AWS. It was termed as Murder in the Amazon cloud by some and was a great lesson in security for organizations. Code Spaces which was a code-hosting and software collaboration platform, has been put out of business because of this incident.

failure-5Bitcoin Exchange Collapse : Not implementing a feature which keeps track of the transactions proved costly for Mt. Gox ,a Bitcoin exchange when lost $500 million of its virtual currency when someone hacked the exchange.



Brunswick Electric: A software glitch during the upgrade of Power stat program at Brunswick electric led to a power outage for hours together which impacted more than 4000 customers.

failure-7Screwfix £34.99 Price Glitch: A price glitch at screwfix’s website was the reason for customer’s joy as all the items went on Sale for just £34.99. From garden tractors to expensive power tools, all the items priced to the delight of the shoppers. All this was attributed to a Data validation error and requires a redo at the testing and validation solutions used by the business. Automation testing could have avoided this glitch as the script would have flagged the glitch immediately.


HMRC’s Big Tax Blunder: Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) which is responsible for collection of taxes in UK was hit by a bug in its PAYE (Pay As You Earn) system which has affected more than 5.7 million people. Error in PAYE resulted in wrong tax code allotted to tax payers due to which many paid more than the actual tax and many ended up paying less tax for the last 2 financial years.


UK border and immigration system: One of the costliest software failure which is estimated to cost upto £1 billion. The system was incapable of dealing with backlog cases and resulted in 29000 applications backlog. The department also failed to locate 50000 people when was asked to find about them. What they needed was a comprehensive system wide IT strategy with skilled staff to avoid such issues.

Sony Pictures Entertainment: The computer network infiltration of one of the major Hollywood movie studio, Sony Pictures entertainment where hundreds of confidential documents were stolen and uploaded on file sharing sites highlights the need of more investment in the network security and thoroughly testing the security aspects. This incident could cost Sony millions of dollars and some embarrassment if some hidden data is revealed.

Businesses spend an average of €514,000 per IT failure, but 50% of these incidents occurred because of software coding errors or failed IT changes and are “avoidable”, according to KPMG research. At Cigniti, we assist organizations to achieve defect free software applications, accelerate the software life cycle while assuring quality. Global businesses rely on Cigniti’s proprietary IP (ETAS) and colocated software testing expertise to avoid software failures.


  • Cigniti Technologies

    Cigniti is the world’s leading AI & IP-led Digital Assurance and Digital Engineering services company with offices in India, the USA, Canada, the UK, the UAE, Australia, South Africa, the Czech Republic, and Singapore. We help companies accelerate their digital transformation journey across various stages of digital adoption and help them achieve market leadership.

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