The biggest software fails of 2016

The newly released Software Fail Watch analyses all software bugs reported in 2016. The result is an extraordinary reminder of why effective software testing is so crucial to every business.

The report, commissioned by Tricentis, identifies 548 recorded software fails affecting some 4.4 billion people and US$1.1 trillion in assets. It highlights year-on-year software fail statistics and trends across finance, retail, services (e.g. internet, telecom), government transportation, and entertainment.

Reportedly, accumulated time lost due to software failures was 315 years, 6 months, 2 weeks, 6 days, 16 hours and 26 minutes.

Increase in software bugs from 2015

Comparing 2016 data versus 2015 shows the need for better software testing is only growing. Ever the buggiest industry – Government – clocked in an additional 42 fails in 2016 over 2015.

software fails

Retail, Transportation, and Service exceeded 2015’s numbers, while the Entertainment and Finance industries managed a year-on-year decrease. Finance’s numbers decreased by nearly 35%, indicating that either the testing or the public relations in this industry have improved over the past year.

Financial ramifications of software failures

Approximately 40% of the companies hit by software fails in 2016 were public companies. While it is not always possible to trace the effects of a software fail in the rise and fall of a company‘s stock prices, there are times when the correlation is unmistakable.

software fails british airways

British Airways’ parent company, International Consolidated Airlines Group, S.A (IAG), is one such example. British Airways implemented a new global check-in system in 2016, which quickly became a source of frustration and embarrassment. British Airways faced 5 major computer outages between May and September, resulting in thousands of flights canceled or delayed, and a cumulative stock market loss of 10.54% or £92.9 billion. The graph above shows a snapshot of IAG’s stocks following the July 17th outage, in which the stock prices dipped 2.28% in the first day alone, for a loss of £20.8 billion.

Biggest hacks of 2016

  • “The Panama Papers” hack leaked 11.5 million documents and 2.6TB of data from the Mossack Fonseca law firm based in Panama – a known tax haven. The leak revealed the illicit financial dealings of politicians, celebrities, and dignitaries worldwide.
  • The CIA formally accused Russia of attempting to influence the United State’s presidential elections in favour of the Republican Party by releasing private emails from the Democratic National Committee. While the hack itself certainly occurred, whether Russia was responsible is still being debated.
  • Multiple banks in India were affected by a massive financial data breach, compromising 3.2 million debit cards. The source of the breach was traced back to malware in Hitachi’s Payment Services, allowing hackers to collect sensitive banking data and steal funds.
  • Hackers managed to steal US$81 million from a bank in Bangladesh by exploiting a vulnerability in SWIFT, a financial transfer system. The dramatic story made headlines worldwide, and brought to light accounts of smaller bank heists exploiting the same vulnerability in recent years.
  • Yahoo admitted to two damaging hacks that occurred in 2013 and 2014, resulting in data stolen from 1.5 billion accounts. It is unclear why this incident only came to light in 2016, however it does not bode well for Yahoo’s future.


More shocking and funny software fails are illustrated in the report.

Edited from press release by Cecilia Rehn.


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