• 22nd Feb 2016  / 
  • by Shaun McKay

10 of the Worst IT Disasters of the Last Decade

It disasters

Technology is designed to make our lives easier. It helps us communicate, entertains us and even arranges our pay. Unfortunately, technology can also cause problems. Everyone has had issues with IT. Whether it accidentally deleted that paper you spent hours working on, or saw you lose all of your data because of a computer crash. Unfortunately, individuals are not the only ones affected by IT disasters. Big businesses and government have all been hit hard when technology goes wrong.

Here is a selection of some of the most devastating IT catastrophes from the past 10 years:


The UK Government Loses Confidential Records

Victim: HMRC

Year: 2007

What Happened?: HM Revenue and Customs lost a computer disc that had the confidential information of 25 million child benefits recipients. While the government said it does not believe the data had fallen into the wrong hands, they cannot say for sure whose hands it is currently in. All this means 25 million people have been put at risk of fraud or other crimes.

Cost: Potential for millions of victims of fraud and identity theft

LeadingEdge Disaster Rating:  mushroom_cloud_x2


The London Stock Exchange Shuts Down

Victim: London Stock Exchange

Year: 2009

What Happened?: The London Stock Exchange was affected by IT problems twice. In November, one twelfth of the exchange went down due to a bug on a single server. Later that month all trading was stopped due to another IT problem.

Cost: Billions of pounds in trading   

LeadingEdge Disaster Rating: mushroom_cloud_60x60_x3


Facebook Privacy Terms

Victim: Facebook

Year: 2009

What Happened?: Facebook has had a number of IT issues, but they created their own disaster by updating their privacy settings. The update set all users’ privacy settings to a default, which allowed anyone to see potentially private information, rather than a select few Facebook employees. While users were able to reset their privacy controls, many people were furious and the safety of data posted on Facebook was called into serious question.

Cost: Customer Loyalty 

LeadingEdge Disaster Rating: mushroom_cloud_60x60


The Knight Capital Glitch

Victim: Knight Capital (investment firm)

Year: 2012

What Happened?: A computer glitch at the investment firm Knight Capital cost them dearly. We’re not sure, but the glitch caused what could be considered the most expensive half hour ever. The problem allowed computers to buy and sell stocks without human approval. The problem pushed Knight capital stock down by a whopping 75%.

Cost: Half a billion dollars (nearly £350 million) and plummeting stock prices   

LeadingEdge Disaster Rating: mushroom_cloud_60x60_x3


The Queensland Health Payroll System

Victim: Queensland

Year: 2013

What Happened?: IBM is no longer allowed to sign contracts with the Australian state of Queensland after an error that cost tax payers millions. The problem, according to the Queensland government, was that IBM lied about its ability to create a computer programme for the state. This lead to the creation of a bungled payroll system.

Cost: $1.1 billion (more than £768 million)   

LeadingEdge Disaster Rating:mushroom_cloud_60x60_x3


The RBS Cyber Monday Outage

Victim: RBS

Year: 2009

What Happened?: The Royal Bank of Scotland experienced a fault on cyber Monday that left its account holders unable to withdraw cash or make payments. In a public statement, the CEO of RBS admitted that the fault was unacceptable and that it was caused by the failure of RBS to invest in IT for decades. The problem left many Christmas shoppers unable to buy or pay for their purchases, which further hurt online retailers.

Cost: Everyone who used RBS was poor for a day    

LeadingEdge Disaster Rating:mushroom_cloud_60x60_x4


The Ashley Madison Hack

Victim: Ashley Madison (online dating site)

Year: 2015

What Happened?: Ashley Madison, the online dating site, which helped married people cheat on their partners, was hacked. To the delight of some and horror of others, the hackers published the real names, email addresses and personal details of the dating site’s users.

Cost: 2 lives, countless marriages, a £400 million class action suit, various extortion attempts, the company’s reputation and the loss of their CEO     

LeadingEdge Disaster Rating:mushroom_cloud_60x60_x5


UK Border Agency Loses Money & Asylum Seekers

Victim: UK Border Agency

Year: 2014

What Happened?: The UK border Agency experienced a number of tech failures. This left asylum seekers wondering if they were allowed to stay and wasted a great deal of taxpayer money.

Cost: £1 billion in taxpayer money, the loss of 50,000 rejected asylum seekers. Plus, 11,000 asylum seekers waited years to find out if they could stay in the UK   

LeadingEdge Disaster Rating:mushroom_cloud_60x60_x3


Screwfix Slashes Price

Victim: Screwfix

Year: 2014

What Happened?: Screwfix had an unintended sale on everything. Their online store suffered a glitch that listed every product for £34.99. This meant everything, from expensive power tools to garden sheds, was discounted by hundreds, or even thousands of pounds. The problem forced Screwfix to cancel orders and anger customers, as well as take a hit to its stock prices.

Cost: Lower stock prices and angry customers

LeadingEdge Disaster Rating:mushroom_cloud_60x60


Amazon Sells Stock for One Penny

Victim: Amazon

Year: 2014

What Happened?: The run up to Christmas puts significant load on online retail sites. This cost Amazon.com dearly. A problem with their price comparison software meant that thousands of products, (usually sold by small retailers) were on sale for just one cent. People jumped on the bargains and the items were shipped before the error was caught. This has left many small retailers out of pocket because Amazon refused to recoup their losses. This decision also harmed Amazon’s relationship with its suppliers.

Cost: Hundreds of thousands of pounds in products & angry suppliers 

LeadingEdge Disaster Rating:mushroom_cloud_x2


The moral of all these disasters is simple: proper planning prevents poor performance.

All of these disasters could have been prevented by taking the right IT precautions. LeadingEdge works to help fix IT disasters like these before they happen. This can save companies valuable time, money and customer loyalty. We have worked with businesses to ensure their IT is designed to cope with problems. We also provide testing for IT solutions so customers know they can count on the systems we implement. 

If you would like LeadingEdge to help you with your IT please contact us today.