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Analysis / Security

What Companies Can Learn From The Biggest Software Failures In History

Computer Failures

Computers make a larger impact on our lives than we ever expected. Software is used in virtually every sector and is often a crucial aspect of running a business. Here we take a look at some of the biggest software blunders in history and how you can avoid making similar mistakes.

Apple Maps

When the 2012 Apple iOS 6 update occurred, Apple decided to remove the Google Maps platform in favour of their own system. However, mapping was not only poor, but entire towns were literally placed in the wrong location or completely removed. The New York Times went on to cite Apple Maps as the “least usable piece of software ever created” and eventually the tech giants decided to revert back to the far superior Google Maps platform. The Apple Maps blunder simply emphasises the importance of being ready. If you are releasing a new product or providing a new service, make sure that it meets the expected standards; otherwise you could end up with some very unhappy customers.

Internal Revenue Service

The Internal Revenue Service will do whatever they can to take money from taxpayers, but in 2006 a software failure led to between $200 million and $300 million in damages because their system refused to accept money from certain taxpayers. The Internal Revenue Service weren’t aware of the problem until it was too late. If you are using a computer program to handle your finances, you better be sure that it’s sending and receiving the exact amount you need it to. Minor software errors can lead to huge damages and there’s nothing more embarrassing than having to approach clients and ask for more money after you’ve already billed them. While software can certainly be beneficial, give your financials the once-over every now and then with a human eye just to be on the safe side.

World of Warcraft

On September 13th 2005, World of Warcraft players were distraught at the Hakkar creation. This creature had the power to instantly kill weak characters using an ability known as “corrupted blood.” While this virus was supposed to be contained in the Hakkar kingdom, a programming glitch passed it on to other servers, which resulted in a death toll of over 1,000 players. Unlike Blizzard, you may not be in the video games industry; however, this World of Warcraft mistake proves that if you don’t have the right security systems in place, then digital viruses could literally ruin your business.

Mars Climate Orbiter

NASA’s $327.6 million Mars Climate Orbiter launched in December 1998 with the purpose finding out more about life on Mars; however, 286 days after the launch, it went missing. Due to a miscalculation the orbiter entered Mars’s atmosphere at the wrong point and at the wrong time, leading to its disintegration. Although you probably won’t be in control of £327.6 million of taxpayer money, you should definitely not put all your eggs in one basket if you’re handling a large investment – especially if it’s somebody else’s money.

These cases may seem extreme, but they prove that even the world’s largest, richest and most respected companies aren’t immune to software failure. While the tech industry is advancing and getting more and more secure, just remember, things can still go wrong.

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Danielle Brooks
Based in London, Danielle Brooks works as an IT support worker for Cheeky Munkey. She spends most of her free time reading up on the latest advances in business in tech. She is also currently in the process of preparing for her first TEDx talk.