A software bug is a flaw that prevents software from working properly. This can cause the software to take unexpected actions, producing incorrect output or crashing the system. Additionally, a bug in a program that processes sensitive information often compromises security.
These software bugs can infiltrate a program during the development phase or after its release. Possible causes include development flaws, incompatibility with a hardware component or the operating system, etc. When a program contains too many bugs, it is called a “buggy”.
To find and remove bugs in a software application, companies debug it during the testing phase. Therefore, the testing phase is crucial for the software development lifecycle. And often developers spend more time and resources testing a program than developing it.
In the computer industry, companies hire people specifically to discover and report bugs. These professionals, called “testers”, help optimize the program before its release. Some large projects involve several phases of testing to minimize the number of bugs. Sometimes users also contribute to this task as part of beta testing.
In addition, the quantity and nature of bugs play an important role in determining the success of software. Almost always, an optimized program performs better and attracts more users than its buggy counterpart. However, buggy apps on release can improve the experience with the necessary fixes and fixes.
Tackling bugs, especially those that make the system vulnerable, is a high priority for companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. This is why they run bounty programs to entice advanced users to locate bugs in their services in exchange for a reward.
Notable incidents where a bug caused a major problem
Knight Capital Stock Trading (2012)
This is an incident that fits perfectly with the metaphor of “burning money”. The Knight Capital debacle cost the company $ 440 million in just 30 minutes. The error of a technician in copying the correct code on one of the brokerage firm’s servers is the cause. By the end of the next day, the value of the company’s shares had fallen by around 75% and it had barely managed to stay in business after raising funds from investors.
NASA Climate Orbiter (1998)
Around the turn of the century, NASA sent an unmanned spacecraft named “Climate Orbiter” to study the Red Planet. However, the space organization lost all contact with it due to a simple bug caused by human error. The problem that marked the end of the $ 125 million space probe was its inability to differentiate imperial from metric units.
Ariane 5 Flight 501 (1996)
The Ariane 5 Flight 501 was a European Space Agency spacecraft to help scientists better understand the magnetic properties of the Earth. However, that goal fell through when, within a minute of launch, Ariane 5 turned and exploded in flames. The $ 370 million crash was caused by a software bug in the on-board computer, which attempted to put 64-bit values into a 16-bit variable.