The 10 most spectacular software failures of 2013

Security

by Duncan MacRae| 21 February 2014

The most horrific disasters, as pinpointed by specialist software consultants.

An ever-increasing number of energy suppliers and manufacturers are being hit by the most spectacular and far-reaching software failures. This is reflected in a recently-conducted survey by SQS Software Quality Systems AG for 2013. Every year, the software quality specialist asks its consultants to name the top 10 software failures from the past 12 months. Here are its top ten from 2013.

1. Launch of 'Obamacare': software swallows a third of insurance applications

The politically controversial 'Obamacare' health insurance programme in the USA made fresh headlines when it was launched. In the autumn, the healthcare portal responsible for handling the insurance was exposed to fierce criticism of its software from many quarters. The most serious defect was that around a third of the insurance applications could not be processed at all to begin with. Because of software errors, the application forms filled in on the portal were stuck there and did not reach the insurers concerned.

One reason was a system routine which prevented the social security number from being entered. The people affected then risked receiving no insurance cover even though their applications were correct. Along with this major fault, many users also complained about the poor usability of the software and errors in the forms. Around 35,000 users also had difficulties logging in for more than a week, although the system was in fact designed to support around 800,000 users. Those responsible for the healthcare portal therefore advised applicants to contact the insurers directly to check whether they had received their applications as indicated.

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