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Epic failures: 11 infamous software bugs

Matt Lake of ComputerWorld takes a look at 11 epic failures in software that either annoyed or destroyed the very systems they were designed to help. In some cases, the results can be looked back on as humorous, such as the software glitch AT&T experienced after an upgrade to their own long distance software: On Jan. 15, 1990, around 60,000 AT&T long-distance customers tried to place long-distance calls as usual — and got nothing. Behind the scenes, the company’s 4ESS long-distance switches, all 114 of them, kept rebooting in sequence. AT&T assumed it was being hacked, and for nine hours, the company and law enforcement tried to work out what was happening. In the end, AT&T uncovered the culprit: an obscure fault in its new software. While other times the results were catastrophic, such as the software error in a patriot missile that caused the death of 28 soldiers; or when the Therac-25 machine dispensed radiation to cancer patients incorrectly, resulting in pain and death. In every case, the importance of software risk identification, mitigation, and monitoring failed, resulting in lost time, money – and in some cases, lives.

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