Read if you dare. 10 horror stories from the tech world

Technologies. They are essential, they surround us at every step and make our lives more comfortable. Some gadgets and tech solutions have already predefined the decade, and the tomorrow we will live in. On the one side, businesses invest billions on IT, trying to jump over the head and take a pivotal role in digital disruption and drive fundamental change. On the opposite side, consumers want to have the latest and greatest products, which speeds up the technology evolution. So yes, there is a kind of synergy where businesses meet customers’ needs and even exceed expectations. This is an excellent tendency, and we also contribute to the digital revolution, where technologies will lead us to a more sustainable and bright future.

But… Sometimes everything doesn’t go as planned. In honor of coming Halloween, we have gathered 10 scary stories from the tech world to spook you – boo! Read if you dare!

 

01 Tests or tricks?

A planned system update during the only weekend turned out to be months of disruption for a bank. Many clients experienced some issues with logging, while others saw details from other clients’ accounts or inaccurate data of their own accounts. The problem appeared when a bank moved to a new banking platform, which caused a disaster because of insufficient rigorous testing. 

 

02 Monster bills

An attempt to bring innovation caused the bankruptcy of the US pharmaceutical company.  The company needed a new modern ERP system to catch real-time data, automate, and integrate inventory systems to enhance supply chain management. It was the first such project launched in the pharmaceutical industry. The ERP system was intended to save over $40 million a year, while SAP implementation was budgeted at $65 million. But poor planning and implementation, insufficient testing, and overly ambitious project scope led to the final bill of $100 million and a bankruptcy a few months later.

 

03 Lost in the black hole

A well-known code collaboration platform suffered from a massive data loss, which appeared to be one of the most recognizable outages in the IT world. The story began with the idea to test using two servers instead of one. The tech team planned to copy all data from prod to the test environment. During the operation, the automatic system started removing accounts from the database because they were identified as dangerous. An accident traffic spike caused the slowing down at first and stopping the coping process due to data discrepancy. Information from the prod environment was removed, and one of the employees has accidentally deleted the production’s database.

As a result, the company has lost 300 GB of customer data.

 

04 Treasure island of precious data

One of the social media platforms experienced serious information security issues at the peak of popularity. A glitch in the API allowed access to non-public information of the users. The outside developers using the API could see the names, emails, gender, job positions of the users. The glitch wasn’t discovered between 2015 and 2018 and was used by ill-wishers all the time. 

 

05 Lost in the maze of supply chain 

One of Japan’s car manufacturers recalls airbags that have already been added to over 1 million cars. The software glitch in the airbag’s sensors caused the problem that the affected cars couldn’t detect whether an adult was in the car’s passenger seat, and, as a result, the airbags couldn’t inflate.

 

06 Magic potion worth $3 million

In 2015, a famous chain of coffee houses experienced an internal failure due to which 60% of stores across the US and Canada were forced to close. The stores couldn’t process payments, and they were giving the coffee away for free. The outage occurred during the daily system refresh and lasted about 3 hours. According to rough estimates, the company lost around $3 million during the outage.

 

07 Internet apocalypse

A world-famous social media platform witnessed how over 50 million accounts occurred at risk due to hacker attacks. The hacker found a vulnerability that allowed them to access users’ personal information, including the CEO’s account. The social media representatives explained how the hackers could find the gap in the system. Most probably, the hackers exploited the gap in the “View as” code, the function that allows checking how a profile looks for other people. This resulted in them getting access to authentication tokens, thanks to which the user does not have to log in to the site every time. 90 million users have been logged out of their accounts the day the vulnerability was discovered, 40 additional million accounts had been logged out as a preventative measure. It was the largest data breach in the company’s history.

 

08 Memory loss

Insufficient computer memory caused a failure of the air traffic control system and delays of hundreds of flights in one of the world’s biggest airports. Moreover, all computers crashed due to a glitch in the ERAM system. This scary story happened in April 2014, when a spy plane was flying through the region. An air traffic controller entered an estimated altitude of the plane, while the system calculated all possible flight paths to ensure that it was not on a crash course with other planes. Most probably, these actions caused the failure in short memory and shut down every other flight processing function. Fortunately, no injuries or accidents were reported.

 

09 Mysterious shopping

One of the largest US marketplaces suffered glitches at the start of the biggest shopping day of the year. Some users couldn’t enter the website; other users were unable to proceed with the payments etc. For this event by itself, industry analysts had estimated the company could rise to at least $3.4 billion within a 36-hour window. But the system glitches made it impossible to shop.

 

10 Vacant place

This is a vacant place in this listing. But alright, tech flops will teach us a lot, and we do hope that this place will be vacant for a long time. Proper planning, project scoping and management, rigorous testing of the workloads, disaster recovery plan, and all other required actions will help avoid unexpected glitches and system failures. 

Happy Halloween!