Peter Coffees Dirty Dozen IT Embarrassments

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Peter Coffees Dirty Dozen IT Embarrassments

There are technology issues, and then there are TECHNOLOGY ISSUES. Peter Coffee looks back at almost 25 years of IT screwups, and provides some lessons that can be learned from them.

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Peter Coffees Dirty Dozen IT Embarrassments - 1982: Trans-Siberian Pipeline explosion proves how hard hackers can hit

Cyber warfare is not just limited to network or data attacks.The CIA planted a Trojan in software that Soviet agents were allowed to steal--and which caused the large

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Peter Coffees Dirty Dozen IT Embarrassments - 1988: USS Vincennes shoots down civilian airliner

A properly functioning system can still misinform the user.A complex situation was all too easily misunderstood, resulting in a tragic mistake. User interface desi

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Peter Coffees Dirty Dozen IT Embarrassments - 1990: AT&T network commits distributed suicide

Tests must admit possibility of failure, and test the failure modes.Out of service messages to neighboring network nodes triggered a bug

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Peter Coffees Dirty Dozen IT Embarrassments - 1994: Pentium FDIV bug makes floating-point division a mainstream joke

Most non-trivial hardware is largely software.Missing entries in a hardware-resident lookup table affected multiple instructions, introdu

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Peter Coffees Dirty Dozen IT Embarrassments - 1995: Syncronys SoftRAM makes people see what they want to see

Its easy for people to fool themselves to keep from feeling foolish.700,000 users spent $30 for software that supposedly made their PCs memory work be

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Peter Coffees Dirty Dozen IT Embarrassments - 1996: Kerberos random number generator finally gets random

Security systems are chains with many links--one weak link is too many.A cryptosystem with a weak random number generator can not be any stronger than that fl

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Peter Coffees Dirty Dozen IT Embarrassments - 1998: USS Yorktown is disabled by software failures

Systems simply must be designed to accommodate user errors and gracefully degrade.The naval vessel Yorktown was towed into port several times because of Windows NT fail

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Peter Coffees Dirty Dozen IT Embarrassments - 1999: Mars Climate Orbiter crashes on metric/English mismatch

Correct solutions to parts of a problem dont necessarily combine to solve the problem.Dispersed development teams are on the rise as enterprises turn to outsour

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Peter Coffees Dirty Dozen IT Embarrassments - 1999: Melissa Worm teaches crucial lessons -- or does it?

How many of this worms enablers are still common IT practice?The worm generated so much traffic, so quickly, that some sites had to turn off their e-ma

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Peter Coffees Dirty Dozen IT Embarrassments - 2005: FBI Virtual Case File project is abandoned

Complex projects create force fields of fantasy--people want to believe they can succeed.Two years before a $170 million project

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Peter Coffees Dirty Dozen IT Embarrassments - 2005: ChoicePoint admits to unwise data disclosures

Even good technology cant keep users from doing dumb things.The FTC charged that ChoicePoint did not use reasonable procedures to screen subscribers and that it

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Peter Coffees Dirty Dozen IT Embarrassments - 2005: Sony rootkit idiocy makes DRM nightmare real

Whos to say whos a bad guy, when the good guys wear the same black hats?Sony Corp. of America/Bertelsmann AG Artists used rootkit-style techniques to hide fro

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