Risk Management

IT Turkeys: Ten of the World’s Most Disastrous IT Mistakes

Today is a day to make perhaps the most enjoyable mistake to make: eating too much! But let's also take a moment to recall some moments where other mistakes were made–these being less about getting seconds and more about the biggest “turkeys” of IT mistakes. We turn to this article from PC Authority written by Stewart Mitchell; which features some of the most interesting, surprising, and disastrous. 

First on the list is the spy thriller-esque story of America planting faulty code for Soviet Russia to use in the 90s, resulting in an enormous explosion! Next is Pentium's mistake with long division, leading up to a loss of about 500 million dollars. 

Another mistake comes from poor communication at Windows, which resulted in an erroneous message to users: 

Already unpopular with consumers because of its fiddly authentication processes, WGA plumbed new depths in 2007 when it flagged thousands of perfectly legal copies of Windows as pirated. According to Microsoft, the mistake arose after a member of the WGA team incorrectly uploaded bug-ridden pre-production software onto the company’s servers on a Friday afternoon. The company said it uninstalled the code, which it did, but the WGA team didn’t test that the fix resolved the problem before heading to the pub for TGIF drinkies.

The result was that until late on Saturday afternoon, anyone connecting to the WGA servers was told that their copy of Windows was dodgier than a Rolex dealer at Paddy’s Market. Windows XP customers were warned they were using pirated software, with all the legal implications that go with it. Windows Vista customers actually had features switched off until they went through the whole process of reactivating their software.

The list also includes coding errors which resulted in phone systems going down, the East Coast going dark, and design software which resulted in $6bn being lost due to delays. 

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