SQS Identifies the Highest Profile Software Failures of 2011

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SQS annual software bugs survey results.

Our top ten list of 2011 shows that software failures are costing companies and consumers large amounts of money. What is worse is that people are losing jobs and in some cases their liberty because of avoidable software failures.

SQS Software Quality Systems, the world’s leading specialist for software quality, has compiled a list of the worst software failures of 2011 that have damaged reputations, impacted negatively on financials ($) and caused stress to users (♥).

Phil Codd, Managing Director & Chief Markets Officer (Northern Europe, India & South Africa) at SQS comments: “Our top ten list of 2011 shows that software failures are costing companies and consumers large amounts of money. What is worse is that people are losing jobs and in some cases their liberty because of avoidable software failures.

“Voted on by SQS consultants, this year’s annual software bugs survey is based on major software failures of the past twelve months, from glitches that generated massive fines in the banking and finance sector to mass recalls of faulty vehicles. Our 2010 report also highlighted computer ‘glitches’ in the financial and automotive industries and this year both of those sectors are prominent in our top ten, taking four of the top ten slots.

“The main problem caused by software bugs is negative financial impact and, in almost every case, consumers end up losing out. Deficiencies in software quality often result in costly emergency fixes and/or damage to a brand’s reputation, but each of our top ten 2011 software failure examples could easily have been avoided through an effective quality management strategy identifying and resolving potential glitches before they appear,” he concluded.

Top Software Failures of 2011

1.    Financial services giant fined $25 million for hiding software glitch that cost investors $217 million - $ and ♥
A software error in the investment model used to manage client assets resulted in this international financial services giant being fined $25 million (£15.7 million) by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The company also had to repay the $217 million (£136 million) backers lost when told that market volatility rather than software failure was to blame for their investment losses.

2.    Computer system bugs cause Asian banking facilities’ downtime - ♥
Computer system problems at one of Japan’s largest banks resulted in a nationwide ATM network of more than 5,600 machines going offline for 24 hours, internet banking services being shut down for three days, delays in salary payments worth $1.5 billion (£939 million) into the accounts of 620,000 people and a backlog of more than 1 million unprocessed payments worth around $9 billion (£5.64 billion).

3.    Cash machine bug benefits customers by giving them extra money - $
An Australian bank began giving out large sums of money from 40 cash machines across one city. Officials at the company said they were operating in stand-by mode, so could not identify the account balances of customers.

4.    Leading smartphones suffer an international blackout - ♥
Core and back-up switch failures resulted in network services across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America going down for 3-4 days. The blackout left millions without email, web browsing or instant messaging services and were reportedly due to server problems at one data centre, in Slough.

5.    Bugs in social networking app for tablet just hours after delayed release - ♥
Just hours after its release, this social networking sites’ long-awaited tablet app was already receiving reports about minor bugs from clicking through to pages via panel icons to problems posting comments.

6.     22 people wrongly arrested in Australia due to failures in new NZ $54.5 million courts computer system - $ and ♥
A new NZ $54.5 million ($42.7 million or £26.8 million) computer system linking New South Wales courts and allowing documents to be lodged electronically led to damages claims for unlawful arrest and malicious prosecution, after 3,600 defects in the electronic transfer of data from the courts to the police’s database led to the wrongful arrest of 22 individuals.

7.    50,500 cars recalled after airbag-related software glitch - $ and ♥
A glitch in the automaker‘s software design and testing approach, that meant airbags for passengers in the right rear seat during a crash may not be deployed, resulted in the recall of 47,401 vehicles in the US and a further 3,099 in Canada and Mexico.

8.    Recall of one million cars addresses fire and rollaway concerns - $ and ♥
A Japanese car company was forced to initiate a worldwide recall of over one million vehicles affected by a design flaw allowing residue from window cleaners to accumulate, which can degrade the switch's electrical contacts and potentially cause a fire over time. This recall followed a global 2.5 million recall by the same company due to design flaws that allowed vehicles to shift out of park and engine stalls.

9.    Telecoms glitch affects 47,000 customers’ meter readings and costs company NZ $2.7 million - $ and ♥
After a software glitch that resulted in customers hitting their data limits early, some 47,000 customers, who were overcharged, were reimbursed by a New Zealand telecoms company in a NZ $2.7 million ($2.1 million or £1.3 million) payout.

10.    Army computer glitches hinder co-ordinated efforts in insurgent tracking
An army computing system designed to share real-time intelligence with troops on the front line has hindered troops by being unable to perform simple analytical tasks. The $2.7 billion cloud-based computing network system runs slowly when multiple users are on the system at the same time and the system’s search tool made finding the reports difficult as the information mapping software was not compatible with the army’s existing search software.

  • All $ figures are US Dollars unless otherwise stated.

SQS Software Quality Systems
SQS is the world’s leading specialist for software quality with focus on Europe. Founded in Cologne in 1982, the company employs more than 2,000 staff. Along with a strong presence in Germany and the UK, SQS has further subsidiaries in Egypt, Finland, India, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa and the US. In addition, SQS maintains a minority stake in a company in Portugal and a cooperative venture in Spain. In 2010, SQS generated sales of 162.9 million Euros.

SQS is the first German company to have a primary listing on the AIM (Alternative Investment Market) in London. In addition, SQS has a dual listing on the open market of the German Stock Exchange in Frankfurt am Main.

With over 5,000 completed projects under its belt, SQS has a strong client base, including half of the DAX 30, nearly a third of the STOXX 50 and 20 of the FTSE 100 companies. These include, among others, Allianz, Beazley, BP, Centrica, Daimler, Deutsche Post, Generali, JP Morgan, Meteor, Reuters and Volkswagen as well as companies from every other conceivable sector.

For more information, see http://www.sqs.com.

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Ranbir Sahota
Vitis PR
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