When Software Bugs Cause Extreme Consequences
Discovering new software flaws, including those that that leave users susceptible to security exploits, has been a constant concern since corporations started depending on technology to function effectively.
Some years have seen some quite so many bugs, and some of these have been massive. Most of these bugs only cause small inconveniences that individual users can work around, but there are those where these small inconveniences
can cause significant injury or damage.
Software is created by people, and hence intrinsically contains bugs that makes the machines run by such software to be susceptible to error. There are documented instances where software bugs cause considerable harm, and injuries.
Arithmetic Overflow in Therac-25
An arithmetic overflow in a machine designed to administer radiation therapy, Therac-25, caused an error that would at times expose patients to radiation poisoning. This occurred from 1985 to 1985, and caused four fatalities.
The Black Out of 2003
Approximately 55 million people in the North-East of United States and parts of Canada we left without power when
a power plant went offline. This caused a huge demand on the rest of the network and a blackout occurred. A software bug had stopped an alarm to be raised, which would have avoided the blackout.
A Chinook helicopter crashed in Scotland in 1994, killing 29 passengers. Although the accident was initially blamed on the pilot, a systems error was later detected and cited as the cause of the crash.
AT&T Long-Distance Service
The software bug that controlled long distance relay switches at AT&T malfunctioned in January of 1990, and caused the company $60 million in charges.
High Radiation at the National Cancer Institute
In the latter months of 2000, a series of accidents occurred at the institute located in Panama City where a software bug miscalculated the dosage requirement for patients undergoing radiation therapy. There were a minimum of 8 fatalities.
Pentium Chip’s Math Error(1993)
As a result of a programming error, the chip could not make accurate math calculations. This caused a huge backlash
from Intel’s huge client base.
Apple Directions to Nowhere
As rivalry between Apple and Google heated up in 2012, Apple ditched Google Maps and opted for its own self-developed software. However, it lacked the expertise to information to match that of Google Maps. Many locations were missing, and others mislabeled.
Sony’s Malicious Copy Protection
In order to prevent piracy, Sony introduced a new system in its audio format CDs in 2005. However, this software
would at times stealthily plant viruses and trojans in the computers of users.
Windows Fight with Pirates (2007)
An almost similar incident came up in 2007 when the bug would not allow users to install the company’s OS because
of its own anti-piracy software. This was regardless of the fact that the copies being installed were genuine.
These are just a few notable cases where software bugs have had a considerable impact on the running of a corporation.