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What are some major software failures in software industry?

In this tutorial, we will learn about some major software failures that have taken place and have resulted in a huge loss to its financers and have also caused many problems. By Monika Sharma Last updated : April 04, 2023

The need for software engineering was realized by the software industry after some of its major failures.

Some of these failures are:

  • The Y2K problem
  • Ariane 5
  • The Patriot Missile
  • Financial Software Failures

The Y2K problem

The Y2K problem is the problem that was faced in the year 2000. It was simply due to the ignorance of the first two digits of the year and following the following date format in computers: DD/MM/YY. Everything was fine until the year 1999, but when the year 2000 arrived, the date format was turned to XX/XX/00. Due to this many systems which were bound to the clock stopped working, many showed unexpected behaviors and others like the bank software were not able to make calculations according to the dates. This problem aroused due to the year change from 1999 to 2000, and that’s the reason this problem was named so.

Ariane 5

This rocket from the European space agency was about to launch unmatched on June 4, 1996. Everything went fine in till the takeoff but just within forty seconds after its lift-off from Kourou, French Guiana, the rocket exploded.

This explosion was due to the error in the software. After 37 seconds of the takeoff, the rocket lost the complete guidance of its altitudes. Due to this, the inertial reference system of the rocket failed as there was no scope of handling such information loss in the software.

The Patriot Missile

The Patriot missile was used in the Gulf war on Feb 25, 1991, as a defense from the Iraqi Scud missiles. The missile failed several times due to some Software problem which led to System failure of the missile. Also, one of its failures also resulted in the Scud to strike the American army base. This killed 28 soldiers and injured nearly 100 other people.

The error in the missile occurred in the system’s clock. After 14 hours, the tracking system was no longer accurate. Specifically, the time in tenths of seconds as measured by the system's internal clock was multiplied by 1/10 to produce the time in seconds. So, as the system was operating for the last 100 hours, while the missile was operated, the 1/10th of a second turned into the significant error which resulted in such a failure.

Financial Software Failures

The failure in the Financial software has been faced several times by the companies and people. The accounting systems in such cases are not able to calculate the amount of each holder or firm correctly and this results in a loss to either the company or its clients. This failure can result in either producing wrong information or can also lead to the crashing of the whole system.

The failure of the Financial Software is not only a threat to the software industry for that failure itself, but it can suffer them even further as it affects the belief of people and if they are not willing to work with such systems, this can be a huge loss for the other companies too.

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