Software defects and bugs cost $60 billion a year in the US. Software for automotive shop. Check out this infographic to get a few other statistics on the impact of defects in your applications.
Many software bugs are merely annoying or inconvenient but some can have extremely serious consequences – either financially or as a threat to human well-being. The following is a list of software bugs with significant consequences.
- A booster went off course during launch, resulting in the destruction of NASAMariner 1. This was the result of the failure of a transcriber to notice an overbar in a written specification for the guidance program, resulting in the coding of an incorrect formula in its FORTRAN software. (July 22, 1962). The initial reporting of the cause of this bug was incorrect.
- NASA's 1965 Gemini 5 mission landed 80 miles (130 km) short of its intended splashdown point due to an incorrect constant for the Earth's rotation rate. The rotation rate corresponding to the 24 hour solar day was used instead of the rotation rate relative to the fixed stars. The shorter length of the first three missions and a computer failure on Gemini 4 prevented the bug from being detected earlier.
- The Russian Space Research Institute's Phobos 1 (Phobos program) deactivated its attitude thrusters and could no longer properly orient its solar arrays or communicate with Earth, eventually depleting its batteries. (September 10, 1988).
- The European Space Agency's Ariane 5 Flight 501 was destroyed 40 seconds after takeoff (June 4, 1996). The US$1 billion prototype rocket self-destructed due to a bug in the on-board guidance software.
- In 1997, the Mars Pathfinder mission was jeopardised by a bug in concurrent software shortly after the rover landed, which was found in preflight testing but given a low priority as it only occurred in certain unanticipated heavy-load conditions. The problem, which was identified and corrected from Earth, was due to computer resets caused by priority inversion.
- In 2000, a Zenit 3SL launch failed due to faulty ground software not closing a valve in the rocket's second stage pneumatic system.
- The European Space Agency's CryoSat-1 satellite was lost in a launch failure in 2005 due to a missing shutdown command in the flight control system of its Rokotcarrier rocket.
- NASA Mars Polar Lander was destroyed because its flight software mistook vibrations due to atmospheric turbulence for evidence that the vehicle had landed and shut off the engines 40 meters from the Martian surface (December 3, 1999).
- Its sister spacecraft Mars Climate Orbiter was also destroyed, due to software on the ground generating commands in pound-force (lbf), while the orbiter expected newtons (N).
- A mis-sent command from Earth caused the software of the NASA Mars Global Surveyor to incorrectly assume that a motor had failed, causing it to point one of its batteries at the sun. This caused the battery to overheat (November 2, 2006).
- NASA's Spirit rover became unresponsive on January 21, 2004, a few weeks after landing on Mars. Engineers found that too many files had accumulated in the rover's flash memory. It was restored to working condition after deleting unnecessary files.
- Japan's Hitomi astronomical satellite was destroyed on March 26, 2016, when a thruster fired in the wrong direction, causing the spacecraft to spin faster instead of stabilize.
- Israel's first attempt to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon with the Beresheet was rendered unsuccessful on April 11, 2019 due to a software bug with its engine system, which prevented it from slowing down during its final descent on the moon's surface. Engineers attempted to correct this bug by remotely rebooting the engine, but by time they regained control of it, Beresheet could not slow down in time to avert a hard, crash landing that disintegrated it.
- A bug in the code controlling the Therac-25radiation therapy machine was directly responsible for at least five patient deaths in the 1980s when it administered excessive quantities of beta radiation.
- A Medtronic heart device was found vulnerable to remote attacks in March 2008.
- The year 2000 problem spawned fears of worldwide economic collapse and an industry of consultants providing last-minute fixes.
- A similar problem will occur in 2038 (the year 2038 problem), as many Unix-like systems calculate the time in seconds since 1 January 1970, and store this number as a 32-bitsignedinteger, for which the maximum possible value is 231 − 1 (2,147,483,647) seconds.
- An error in the payment terminal code for Bank of Queensland rendered many devices inoperable for up to a week. The problem was determined to be an incorrect hexadecimal number conversion routine. When the device was to tick over to 2010, it skipped six years to 2016, causing terminals to decline customers' cards as expired.
Electric power transmission
- The Northeast blackout of 2003 was triggered by a local outage that went undetected due to a race condition in General Electric Energy's XA/21 monitoring software.
- The software of the A2LL system for handling unemployment and social services in Germany presented several errors with large-scale consequences, such as sending the payments to invalid account numbers in 2004.
- AT&T long distance network crash (January 15, 1990), in which the failure of one switching system would cause a message to be sent to nearby switching units to tell them that there was a problem. Unfortunately, the arrival of that message would cause those other systems to fail too – resulting in a cascading failure that rapidly spread across the entire AT&T long distance network.
- In January 2009, Google's search engine erroneously notified users that every web site worldwide was potentially malicious, including its own.
- In May 2015, iPhone users discovered a bug where sending a certain sequence of characters and Unicode symbols as a text to another iPhone user would crash the receiving iPhone's SpringBoard interface, and may also crash the entire phone, induce a factory reset, or disrupt the device's connectivity to a significant degree, preventing it from functioning normally. The bug persisted for weeks, gained substantial notoriety and saw a number of individuals using the bug to play pranks on other iOS users, before Apple eventually patched it on June 30, 2015 with iOS 8.4.
- The software error of a MIM-104 Patriot caused its system clock to drift by one third of a second over a period of one hundred hours – resulting in failure to locate and intercept an incoming Iraqi Al Hussein missile, which then struck Dharan barracks, Saudi Arabia (February 25, 1991), killing 28 Americans.
- A Chinook crash on Mull of Kintyre in June 1994. A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter crashed into the Mull of Kintyre, killing 29. This was initially dismissed as pilot error, but an investigation by Computer Weekly uncovered sufficient evidence to convince a House of Lords inquiry that it may have been caused by a software bug in the aircraft's engine control computer.
- Smart ship USS Yorktown was left dead in the water in 1997 for nearly 3 hours after a divide by zero error.
- In April 1992 the first F-22 Raptor crashed while landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The cause of the crash was found to be a flight control software error that failed to prevent a pilot-induced oscillation.
- While attempting its first overseas deployment to the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, on 11 February 2007, a group of six F-22 Raptors flying from Hickam AFB, Hawaii, experienced multiple computer crashes coincident with their crossing of the 180th meridian of longitude (the International Date Line). The computer failures included at least navigation (completely lost) and communication. The fighters were able to return to Hawaii by following their tankers, something that might have been problematic had the weather not been good. The error was fixed within 48 hours, allowing a delayed deployment.
Cost Of Finding Software Bugs
- In the Sony BMG copy protection rootkit scandal (October 2005), Sony BMG produced a Van Zant music CD that employed a copy protection scheme that covertly installed a rootkit on any Windows PC that was used to play it. Their intent was to hide the copy protection mechanism to make it harder to circumvent. Unfortunately, the rootkit inadvertently opened a security hole resulting in a wave of successful trojan horse attacks on the computers of those who had innocently played the CD. Sony's subsequent efforts to provide a utility to fix the problem actually exacerbated it.
- Eve Online's deployment of the Trinity patch erased the boot.ini file from several thousand users' computers, rendering them unable to boot. This was due to the usage of a legacy system within the game that was also named boot.ini. As such, the deletion had targeted the wrong directory instead of the /eve directory.
- The Corrupted Blood incident was a software bug in World of Warcraft that caused a deadly, debuff-inducing virtual disease that could only be contracted during a particular raid to be set free into the rest of the game world, leading to numerous, repeated deaths of many player characters. This caused players to avoid crowded places in-game, just like in a 'real world' epidemic, and the bug became the center of some academic research on the spread of infectious diseases.
- On June 6, 2006, the online game RuneScape suffered from a bug that enabled certain player characters to kill and loot other characters, who were unable to fight back against the affected characters because the game still thought they were in player-versus-player mode even after they were kicked out of a combat ring from the house of a player who was suffering from lag while celebrating an in-game accomplishment. Players who were killed by the glitched characters lost many items, and the bug was so devastating that the players who were abusing it were soon tracked down, caught and banned permanently from the game, but not before they had laid waste to the region of Falador, thus christening the bug 'Falador Massacre'.
- In the 256th level of Pac-Man, a bug results in a kill screen. The maximum number of fruit available is seven and when that number rolls over, it causes the entire right side of the screen to become a jumbled mess of symbols while the left side remains normal.
- Upon initial release, the ZX Spectrum game Jet Set Willy was impossible to complete because of a severe bug that corrupted the game data, causing enemies and the player character to be killed in certain rooms of the large mansion where the entire game takes place. The bug, known as 'The Attic Bug', would occur when the player entered the mansion's attic, which would then cause an arrow to travel offscreen, out of the Spectrum's memory and into the game's memory, altering crucial variables and behavior in an undesirable way. The game's developers initially excused this bug by claiming that the affected rooms were death traps, but ultimately owned up to it and issued instructions to players on how to fix the game itself.
- The first game in the Civilization series contained a notorious bug that caused one of the world leaders, Mahatma Gandhi, to behave like an aggressive warmonger, despite being known for advocating peace in the real world. The bug, which became famously known as 'Nuclear Gandhi', became possible when Gandhi's aggression rating, represented as an 8-bit unsigned integer, was set to the lowest positive value of 1. If the player chose to democratize his native India, the rating would decrease by two, causing it to roll over back to the highest value, 255, thus making him the most aggressive leader in the game. The bug was so famous that the developers decided to allow players to deliberately goad Gandhi into aggressive conflict in later sequels.
- One of the free demo discs issued to PlayStation Underground subscribers in the United States contained a serious bug, particularly in the demo for Viewtiful Joe 2, that would not only crash the PlayStation 2, but would also unformat any memory cards that were plugged into that console, erasing any and all saved data onto them. The bug was so severe that Sony had to apologize for it and send out free copies of other PS2 games to affected players as consolation.
- Due to a severe programming error, much of the Nintendo DS game Bubble Bobble Revolution is unplayable because a mandatory boss fight failed to trigger in the 30th level.
- An update for the Xbox 360 version of Guitar Hero II, which was intended to fix some issues with the whammy bar on that game's guitar controllers, came with a bug that caused some consoles to freeze, or even stop working altogether, producing the infamous 'red ring of death'.
- Valve's Steam client for Linux could accidentally delete all the user's files in every directory on the computer. This happened to users that had moved Steam's installation directory. The bug is the result of unsafe shellscript programming:
- The first line tries to find the script's containing directory. This could fail, for example if the directory was moved while the script was running, invalidating the 'selfpath' variable
$0. It would also fail if
$0contained no slash character, or contained a broken symlink, perhaps mistyped by the user. The way it would fail, as ensured by the
&&conditional, and not having
set -ecause termination on failure, was to produce the empty string. This failure mode was not checked, only commented as 'Scary!'. Finally, in the deletion command, the slash character takes on a very different meaning from its role of path concatenation operator when the string before it is empty, as it then names the root directory.
- Minus World is an infamous glitch level from the 1985 game Super Mario Bros., accessed by using a bug to clip through walls in level 1-2 to reach its 'warp zone', which leads to the said level. As this level is endless, triggering the bug that takes the player there will make the game impossible to continue until the player resets the game or runs out oflives.
- 'MissingNo.' is a glitch Pokémon species present in Pokémon Red and Blue, which can be encountered by performing a particular sequence of seemingly unrelated actions. Capturing this Pokémon may corrupt the game's data, according to Nintendo and some of the players who successfully attempted this glitch. This is one of the most famous bugs in video game history, and continues to be well-known.
- In order to fix a warning issued by Valgrind, a maintainer of Debian patched OpenSSL and broke the random number generator in the process. The patch was uploaded in September 2006 and made its way into the official release; it was not reported until April 2008. Every key generated with the broken version is compromised (as the 'random' numbers were made easily predictable), as is all data encrypted with it, threatening many applications that rely on encryption such as S/MIME, Tor, SSL or TLS protected connections and SSH.
- Heartbleed, an OpenSSL vulnerability introduced in 2012 and disclosed in April 2014, removed confidentiality from affected services, causing among other things the shut down of the Canada Revenue Agency's public access to the online filing portion of its website following the theft of social insurance numbers.
- The Apple 'goto fail' bug was a duplicated line of code which caused a public key certificate check to pass a test incorrectly.
- By some accounts Toyota's electronic throttle control system (ETCS) had bugs that could cause sudden unintended acceleration.
- The Boeing 787 Dreamliner experienced an integer overflow bug which could shut down all electrical generators if the aircraft was on for more than 248 days.
- In early 2019, the transportation-rental firm Lime discovered a firmware bug with its electric scooters that can cause them to brake unexpectedly very hard, which may hurl and injure riders.
- The Vancouver Stock Exchange index had large errors due to repeated rounding. In January 1982 the index was initialized at 1000 and subsequently updated and truncated to three decimal places on each trade. This was done about 3000 times a day. The accumulated truncations led to an erroneous loss of around 25 points per month. Over the weekend of November 25–28, 1983, the error was corrected, raising the value of the index from its Friday closing figure of 524.811 to 1098.892.
- Knight Capital Group lost $440 million in 45 minutes due to the improper deployment of software on servers and the re-use of a critical software flag that caused old unused software code to execute during trading.
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- ^Feder, Barnaby J. (2008-03-12). 'A Heart Device Is Found Vulnerable to Hacker Attacks'. The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
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Top 10 Famous and Interesting Bugs in The Tech World
Computer bugs or coding errors are a common phenomenon in the tech world as almost all software being developed have bugs. Any software which has a bug since the start of its lifecycle and is discovered later is called a zero-day. Every day we hear such zero-days being discovered making it easy for hackers to hack into the system or your PC. Though such bugs cost big money, there are many such instances that such software errors have caused losses in millions of dollars. Today we bring to you 10 such famous and interesting bugs from the tech world.
1. Ariane 5 Crash
Arian 5 was the fifth in the Ariane series of European civilian expendable launch vehicles for space launch use and was to be used for launching satellites into space. The name comes from the French spelling of the mythological character Ariadne. On a sunny day in Kourou, French Guiana on June 4, 1996, the unmanned Ariane 5 exploded only about 40 seconds after its launch. This $500 million rocket exploded due to a very common software bug known as Integer Overflow. The internal SRI* software exception was caused during execution of a data conversion from 64-bit floating point to 16-bit signed integer value. The floating point number which was converted had a value greater than what could be represented by a 16-bit signed integer.
This software bug ended up causing more human loss than can be counted in money. 28 US military soldiers were killed and 98 were injured when an Iraqi missile hit their barracks because the missile system meant to protect them failed due to a software bug. The missile defense system called Patriot failed to track and intercept the incoming Iraqi missile due bug in Patriot’s radar and tracking software and failed to deploy on time.
This bug caused losses as well as gave rise to new breed of startups. In the late 90s, Y2K bug was perhaps the most talked about bug even as the world waited for airplanes to collide, ships to veer off course, stock markets to collapse as was forecasted by many tech experts. The bug was a simple mistake in the time management system of computers which used only two digits to represent the year. So 1970 would be represented as 70 and 1999 would be represented as 99.
This method worked fine till 31 Dec, 1999 but failed to take into consideration this millennium. Due to this bug, almost all computers which ran in those days would have read 1 January 2000 many 1 Jan 1900. The collapse never happened but it took a while for software developers to fix this bug.
4. PayPal Bug That Made a $92 Quadrillion deposit
On a hot humid day in June 2013, Chris Reynolds got a fright of his life because his PayPal account showed a credit of $92,233,720,368,547,800. The Pennsylvania PR executive’s account balance had swelled to a whopping $92,233,720,368,547,800. That’s a cool $92 QUADRILLION (and change).
The money was credited into Reynolds PayPal account due to a bug which catapulted him to become the world’s richest man till the fun lasted. Reynolds was richer a million times than world’s richest man at that time, Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim who worth $67 billion. PayPal admitted that the credit was due to a software bug and offered to donate an unspecified amount of money to a cause of Reynolds’ choice.
5. Gangnam Style broke YouTube
In 2014, YouTube was broken by a music video called Gangnam Style by Psy. YouTube developers built their platform on a 32-bit register, meaning that YouTube could track a range of -2,147,483,648 to 2,147,483,647 values for its view counter. Since one cannot, unfortunately, register a negative view on YouTube, this translated to a view-tracking capability of nearly 2.15 billion.
Free speech to text windows 10. Note: These options are provided for informational purposes only.
“We never thought a video would be watched in numbers greater than a 32-bit integer,” YouTube said in a Google+ post, “but that was before we met PSY.” Google fixed this YouTube bug by changing the view count to a 64-bit signed integer.
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6. Bug in Windows native calculator
Download gmail emails to outlook. This bug has not caused any loss but continues till date. Every version of Microsoft’s Windows operating software has a calculator which can’t give correct answer for square root(9)-3. The answer this arithmatic should be 0 but the Windows calculator doesn’t give 0 as an output. See the image below to understand the bug.
The Calculator’s result is the same for any other number. For example answer of sqrt(4)-2 should be 0 but it won’t give 0 as an answer. This bug has been discovered years earlier but continues unabated even in Windows 10.
This time bug problem is similar to the Y2K bug issue we had in late 90s except that this is still to be patched. The world 32-bit computers could come to standstill on 19th January, 2038 as the time will end on that date. The Year 2038 problem is an issue for computing and data storage situations in which time values are stored or calculated as a signed 32-bit integer, and this number is interpreted as the number of seconds since 00:00:00 UTC on 1 January 1970 (the epoch). Such implementations cannot encode times after 03:14:07 UTC on 19 January 2038.
According to software engineers, the Year 2038 bug doesn’t have a solution.
On August 14, 2003, a blackout across eight US states and Canada affected 50 million people. PC Authority described the cause, a race condition bug, as something that occurs when “two separate threads of a single operation use the same element of code.” Without proper synchronization, the threads tangle and crash a system.
That’s what happened here with the result 256 power plants offline. The major disruptions manifested themselves in the form of cellular communication with the best form of communication during the outage said to be a laptop using a dial-up modem. And if you just cringed in horror at the word “dial-up,” you’re not alone.
The Mars Climate Orbiter launched on December 11, 1998 by NASA to hunt for planets which can support human life. Unfortunately, due to an error in the ground-based computer software, the $327.6 million project — according to the NASA fact sheet — went missing 286 days later. Because of a miscalculation, Orbiter entered the Mars atmosphere at the wrong entry point and disintegrated shortly thereafter.
Cost Of Bugs In Software Testing
For nine hours in January 1990, AT&T customer in the United States could not make a long-distance calls. This paralysed the entire United States telephone network for a whole day. The root of the problem was a bug in the AT&T software that controlled the company’s long-distance relay switches—software that had just been updated. AT&T wound up losing $60 million in charges that day—a very expensive bug.