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Top software failures of 2015/2016

Christina Mercer | June 28, 2016
Missing payments, double-charged customers and delayed stealth fighter jets all resulted from software glitches this year

In February 2014 Toyota had to recall almost 2 million Prius hybrid vehicles in order to fix a software glitch with its engine control unit. The glitch could cause transistors to overheat, sending the car into fail-safe mode and potentially causing the hybrid system to shut down while driving. It's a recurring issue: the same software problems caused Toyota to recall a further 625,000 vehicles in July 2015.

17. Heartbleed security flaw uncovered

Top software failures 2014: Heartbleed security flaw uncovered
© iStock/Nerthuz

In April 2014, a member of Google's security team found a flaw in the encryption library Open SSL, which hosts 66 percent of all websites.  Although it was quickly patched by most IT firms, the sheer scale of the services affected means it is likely that there are still servers out that which remain vulnerable to attack.

18. US National Grid Gas Company blew $1 billion

Top software failures 2014: US National Grid Gas Company blew $1 billion
© iStock/farvatar

The US National Grid Gas Company moved to a new ERP system from SAP in 2012 in an effort to streamline back-office processes. However the software was incorrectly implemented, resulting in problems like inaccurate wage payments and unpaid supplier bills. The cost of implementing and fixing the software means it has cost $945 million (£607 million), up from an original estimate of $383 million (£248 million), according to external auditors.

19. Emergency numbers go offline for six hours 

Top software failures 2014: Emergency numbers go offline for six hours
© iStock/SeanShot

Emergency services were unavailable for six hours across seven US states last April. The incident affected 81 call centres, meaning about 6,000 people made 911 calls that were unable to connect in Washington and parts of six other states. A study from Federal Communications Commission found an entirely preventable software error was responsible for causing the service to drop.

20. Apple forced to pull iOS 8 update

Top software failures 2014: Apple forced to pull iOS 8 update
© iStock/Wachiwit

Despite being the world's most profitable company, Apple had a major embarrassment in September 2014 when it had to pull the update for its new iOS 8 operating system a mere hour after release. Users complained of lost phone signal, frozen updates and unlocking problems. A study by Bloomberg claimed the latest operating system crashes 67 percent more often than its predecessor.

21. iCloud hacked

Top software failures 2014: iCloud hacked
© iStock/EdStock

Compromising photos of A-list stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Kirsten Dunst appeared on 4chan and other internet forums last September. Hackers had gained access to the stars' iCloud accounts using phishing schemes and brute-force guessing. Apple CEO Tim Cook promised to beef up iCloud's security features to restore user confidence after the hack. 


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