5 Major IT Disasters faced by businesses

When we look over the recent past we can see the massive strides technology and software has taken. Alongside the success, there has also been some spectacular failures. There has been cyber attacks, service outages, ransomware attacks and data breaches, all of which has affected millions of customers. We will take a look at the top 5 recent software failures by businesses and try to dissect what happened and the outcome.


TSB IT Upgrade

TSB had a disastrous spell in April 2018 due to some planned upgrades of their IT system. TSB had planned to shut down their internet and mobile banking services for one weekend in April, however this caused months of unexpected disruption. This left millions of customers unable to access their accounts in any online capacity, having to resort to physically attending the bank or using telephone banking.

The core of this problem arose when TSB was separating from Lloyds banking group and migrating to a new banking platform. This was promptly followed by customers unable to access their online banking services, customers being shown incorrect details, credits and debits being incorrect, the entire system was broken. Due to these major issues, customers were still locked out of their accounts a whole two weeks after the migration.

TSB was still wading through the complaints when in July, they were struck by another outage. This one however was not as severe and TSB claimed the issue was resolved the same day.

British Airways Passenger Disruption

During the summer of 2017 British Airways was forced to cancel all flights going from Heathrow and Gatwick. This is a disastrous as it sounds, there were 726 cancellations over a three day period which had left 75,000 passengers stranded at the the 2 airports. By the time the saga had concluded British Airways had suffered an estimated £80 million loss as a direct result of the IT failure and over 1,000 flights being cancelled.

The root cause of the problem was an outage at a third party travel tech supplier, Armadeus. Armadeus was supplying flight booking software, the outage had meant that British Airways ground handling agents could not generate load sheets for flights. These sheets are vital for the safety of every flight as it gives the pilot vital information regarding the centre of gravity of the plane, load weight, etc. Without this information flights were unable to safely depart the two airports.

NHS WannaCry Outbreak

Once again in the summer of 2017 we had a major IT issue affect hundreds of thousands of devices. WannaCry is a piece of malicious software that would encrypt the victims files. Access could only be obtained by paying a fee to get a special key to decrypt your files. This however did not prevent the victims from being attacked again and held to ransom. There were more than 200,000 victims across 150 countries that were affected by the WannaCry ransomware.

The major issue with the WannaCry ransomware was how many public sector devices were infected. Over 40 NHS trusts were affected which caused them to postpone many procedures, operations and day to day running. It came o light that a vulnerability in an outdated Windows XP version allowed the attackers to perform the ransom of victims devices.

Google+ API Vulnerability

At the start of this year Google+ was discovered to have a major vulnerability in its API. This vulnerability allowed third party app developers to access data from friends of the app users, very similar to the Facebook scandal with Cambridge Analytica. News surfaced that, even when Google had found out there was a vulnerability, they still chose to hide the fact. There were several comparisons to the Facebook scandal unfolding at the time, at which point Alphabet, the parent company, decided to shut down Google+ entirely.

Welsh NHS

At the start of 2018 staff throughout Wales faced major and widespread computer failure. GP’s and hospitals computer system crashed, leaving widespread chaos. Doctors all over the country could not access patient records, notes or prescription details. Many feared it was an outbreak of ransomware like the WannaCry virus that affected many NHS trusts in the UK. However this fear was quickly put to rest and the root cause was described as a technical problem. Although the issue was resolved in a timely manner, major disruption was caused throughout the whole of Wales.