When humans make mistakes, it’s called human error, but people mistakenly believe that human error is the cause of many disasters. However, technology hasn’t had a perfect track record either. In the past there have been a number of IT disasters. Here’s the top ten most destructive IT disasters of all time!
IT Disaster #1: AT&T Lines Crash
On Janaury 5, 1990 AT&T’s network collapsed. This caused seventy-five million phone calls to remain unanswered. AT&T solved this disastrous problem when then reduced the messaging load of the CCS7 network. This allowed the switches to rest and the network restabilized. Despite all the rumors of possible hackers or theft attacks, this was really just an embarrassing problem for AT&T during a rush of competition.
IT Disaster #2: Destruction of the Mars Climate Orbiter
September 3, 1999, a spacecraft sent to mars to study its climate was destroyed on entry, when a miscalculation caused it to enter the atmosphere too low. After precise examination of the spacecraft’s last 6 to 8 hours of pre-orbit it was indicated that a navigation error may have been made. The spacecraft, the Mars Climate Orbiter, had flown over Mars at the wrong altitude (only 60 km instead of the planned 150 km) and this caused it’s destruction. It was only designed to fly above 85km so below that it would probably break up from atmospheric stresses!
IT Disaster #3: BCSA Overpayment
The British Child Support Agency, which used an EDS operated system, overpaid 1.9 million people, and underpaid 700,000. This cost tax payers more than one billion pounds.
IT Disaster #4: Hartford Coliseum Destruction
In 1978, just hours after thousands of fans left from a show, the Hartford Coliseum caved in under the weight of the snow on its roof, due to an incorrect assumption by the software used to design it! It cost $70 million, plus another $20 million to the local economy!
IT Disaster #5: Almost World War III
On January 25, 1995 when a glitch in the Soviet early warning system indicated that America was firing missiles, it almost caused WWIII. Luckily, an on-duty officer realized the error.What makes this even more mind-boggling is that Russia’s early-warning systems are in much now in worse shape than they were in 1995!
IT Disaster #6: Dell Laptop Glitch
At a Japanese trade show a laptop set on fire. It was caused by the battery, and soon more reports surfaced. It cost the company $185 million!
IT Disaster #7: Ariane Five Explosion
In 1996 a European rocket was destroyed just a few seconds into its first launch, due to a software error. It cost $500 million.
IT Disaster #8: Passport System Failure
In 1999, half a million British citizens could not get their passports in time for their vacations, as the Passport Agency was using a new Siemens computer system, which they had failed to test beforehand.
IT Disaster #9: Flights in LA International Airport Grounded
Officials at the airport grounded 17,000 flights, due to incorrect data from a network card!
IT Disaster #10: Destruction of the Mariner 1
A rocket called the Mariner 1 was supposed to be heading for Venus, but instead missioncontrol accidently entered a code, which destroyed it in just over two hundred seconds after take-off.
- Often simple technical problems can cause vast consequences and great deals of money.
- Many of the IT disasters were caused by glitches in the computer system or software.