Insights Blog This Week in Bug/Virus/Breach History – April 17, 2018


This Week in Bug/Virus/Breach History – April 17, 2018

The IRS seemed to be planning an outage from April 17th, 2018 to the year 9999. Have they finally gone crazy?

Some of the best advantages to software quality assurance is knowing the history of what has gone wrong with software.  With that in mind, let’s review this week in software uh-oh history:

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) had found ways to capitalize on secret IT vulnerabilities to their advantage.  Unfortunately, on April 14, 2017, their exploit known as EternalBlue (which makes use of a Microsoft vulnerability) was leaked to the internet.  Less than a month later, it would be used as the basis of the worldwide WannaCry attack.

On April 17, 2015, Bloomberg terminals suffered a global outage, leaving traders without access to chat and market news and market data. Bloomberg charges around $21K annually for their subscription service.  Bloomberg’s explanation of what went wrong: “We experienced a combination of hardware and software failures in the network, which caused an excessive volume of network traffic. This led to customer disconnections as a result of the machines being overwhelmed. We discovered the root cause quickly, isolated the faulty hardware, and restarted the software. We are reviewing our multiple redundant systems, which failed to prevent this disruption.”

On April 17, 2018 (yes, this year!), on the final day that federal taxes are due for many in the U.S., the federal government’s tax website refused to accept payments while displaying the following message:

That is a long scheduled outage – almost 8,000 years!  I was going to complain about the maintenance running until a year and a half ago, but what’s the point?  Taxpayers have been told that they must pay by the end of today, even if the ability to process the payment remains unavailable.

This column returns next week – assuming there is a next week.  I don’t think the U.S. tax problem should impact there being a next week, but I need to remember to use that tagline the week before January 19, 2038, when UNIX’s signed 32-bit integer time format overflows.  In the meantime remember: Play it safe!