Why does software keep failing in 2019?

We’ve been working for software testing providers since 2008, and have witnessed how the proliferation of software, apps and now IoT devices, is leading to a very buoyant sector. According to industry analyst Frost & Sullivan, the software testing market expected to grow at 14% CAGR in next few years with the rise of agile testing and DevOps.

We hear about software failures every day – they lead to phones not working, flight delays, faulty e-commerce sites and more.

Critically, any form of a software failure could potentially cause reputational and financial damage, especially if it underpins a system used by millions. These failures may have been identified, but they can’t always be fixed as soon as users would like. Software failure can be introduced at just about any point in the development lifecycle, and may exist as software testing is not seen as a priority. Prevention is really better than cure here.

A number of high profile failures have hit the headlines in the last twelve months, including more than 30 million O2 users in the UK lost access to data services after a software issue left them unable to use 3G and 4G services; an air traffic control computer failure at the Eurocontrol centre in Brussels delayed an estimated 14,000 European flights in April and a coding error with the spot-welding robots at Subaru’s Indiana Automotive plant in Lafayette meaning that 293 of its new Subaru Ascents had to be sent to the car crusher.

Software testing simply needs to move up the management agenda, with software testing and software development being judged equally. Software testers are continuously evolving their offers to stay ahead of growing software failures, with the growth of DevOps prevalent.

You may already have been a victim of software failure, and here are five that stand out amongst the many:

Increasing social media hacks

Social media platforms have seen an increased number of attacks. Take the Labour party’s Twitter hacked on 11 July 2019. Hackers can also cause huge damage if they post fake news on prominent social media profiles. Hackers are also trolling social media for photos, videos, and other clues that can help them better target your company in an attack. Hackers are successfully sourcing user data (mainly sensitive) from a number of widely accessed social media platforms. Here security testing of the software and platforms may have prevented hacks.

System syncing

Syncing is something you’ll experience with a lot of new software systems, and it can often fail. If the syncing process fails, you could lose a lot of data (always have a backup) and it’s evident that the software’s initial performance isn’t all it should be. Failure to sync your data is something that can happen due to an ineffective migration progress, which should have been tested.

Overall performance glitches

With the release of new software upgrades, you expect devices or software to work right immediately. Glitches can lead to security breaches - so without thorough testing, they can open up your data to hackers.

Legacy failing social security systems

Large social security systems are often patched together with legacy and new software, and incompatibility or insufficient regression testing mean that consumers’ data is at risk, including social security numbers, credit cards, names, etc. A recent headline grabber was a publicly accessible and unsecured ElasticSearch server owned by the Jiangsu Provincial Public Security Department of the Chinese province Jiangsu leaked two databases containing over 90 million people and business records.

Mobile app issues

Many of us rely heavily on mobile apps, and without them we may not be able to complete everyday tasks, and that’s especially worrying if money-related. For example, crypto exchange Coinbase experienced a brief outage in late June, with both its website and API rendered temporarily inaccessible, as the price of bitcoin dropped more than $1,700 in the span of 15 minutes.

Or what about WhatsApp urging users to update their messaging app after concerns were raised that hackers could inject spy software on to phones via the call function? The Facebook-owned company said the spyware was spread by an “advanced cyber actor”, and infected multiple mobile phones using a major vulnerability in the app.


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