As we saw this quarter, no one is immune to system failures — even major stock exchanges and leading airlines.
Trusted brands have lost hundreds of millions of dollars and had their reputations tarnished this past quarter in some of the worst outages we have seen in five years. Whether brought on by hackers or “never-before-seen” computer malfunctions, it is clear that companies of every size and industry must seriously evaluate their disaster preparedness in order to avoid these pitfalls.
When: July 14
Duration: Approx. 1 day
What Happened: The Singapore Exchange (SGX) bore another blow to its reputation after its fourth outage in two years. The outage left many brokers and traders scrambling to answer panicked calls from investors concerned about their trades. A hardware disk that runs an application to send confirmation messages for completed trades had failed; when the automated software did not detect the disk failure, the secondary backup systems did not kick in. While technical problems are known to occur with stock exchanges, SGX apologized and said it would invest $20 million to improve its technology infrastructure to ensure this does not happen again.
When: July 16
Duration: 5 hours
What Happened: A hacking group named PoodleCorp claimed responsibility for bringing down Pokemon Go’s servers on July 16th. The outage coincided with the launch of Pokemon Go in 26 new countries, leaving millions of players across Europe, the UK, and the U.S. unable to play the game. The game’s makers called for calm as countless players vented their frustration on social media.
When: July 20
Duration: 12 hours
What Happened: Over 2,300 Southwest Airlines flights were cancelled and 4,500 delayed on July 20th due to a computer router failure. The outage cost the airline an estimated $54 million. According to the company’s CEO Gary Kelly, the lone router failure was a “once-in-a-thousand-year flood” that they could not have predicted, because “this isn’t a drill you can run.” Southwest has since put additional measures in place to prevent a similar disruption.
When: July 20
Duration: Approx. 1 hour
What Happened: After acquiring the popular virtual-sticker app Bitmoji, Snapchat announced to its users that they could now create Mini-Me-style avatars. The feature proved to be so popular so quickly, it crashed Snapchat’s servers. Thousands of frustrated users around the globe took to Twitter to air their grievances in the hour or so it took to get back online.
When: July 31
Duration: 3 hours
What Happened: Thousands of would-be couch potatoes were disappointed to discover that Netflix was down for three hours on July 31st (a Saturday night, no less). Ten countries in addition to the U.S. experienced connection problems, including Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Switzerland, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, Norway, New Caledonia and Nicaragua. The outage turned out to be localized to Netflix users using the web player, and did not affect Apple TV users.
When: August 8
Duration: 5 hours
What Happened: On August 8th, a computer malfunction in Delta’s Atlanta headquarters led to a complete system outage. As a result, over 2,000 flights were cancelled over three days, costing the airline $150 million. Calling the failure a “one-time event,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said that Delta invested hundreds of millions of dollars over the past three years improving its systems to prevent such an outage, but the core system “did not kick over to the backup power source.” All affected customers received refunds and vouchers for future travel.
When: September 19
Duration: Approx. 5 hours
What Happened: In its worst outage since 2011, the Australian stock exchange (ASX) was down for almost five hours on September 19th. The outage also impacted rival trading venue Chi-X Australia. The problem arose from a hardware failure in the main database of the equities’ trading system, which had a domino effect on the operation of the entire market. Technicians who assessed the incident said they had “never seen this malfunction before.”