Nine Nasty Enterprise IT Failures of 2013

General | December 6, 2013 | 3 min read


We are at the end of 2013. Looking back, it has indeed been a very challenging year for IT departments of organizations, big and small. Even many successful, reputable enterprises hogged the media limelight for unpleasant, IT-related reasons. Security breaches, identity thefts, outages, network failures and other problems led to lost revenue and to damaged reputations from negative comments in social media and press.  Following are a few prominent incidents that happened this year.

1. Adobe hack hits 38 million users

October 2013 – Adobe faced a cyber-attack and lost sensitive data including credit card numbers of at least 38 million users. This was one of the worst cases of hacking in recent times, which made Adobe initiate a password reset for all of its users.

2. Coke’s Super Bowl super crash

February 2013 – The Coke website crashed during Super Bowl XLVII due to heavy ad driven traffic. An interactive commercial, which invited visitors to vote at  was found to be the cause. According to, the page had an average load time of 62 seconds and the website was down for most users, making them really unhappy.

 3. Amazon Web Services loses $ 163K per minute

August 2013 – Amazon Web Services faced network problems due to issues with its datacenter in Eastern U.S. People across Canada and U.S. were not able to connect to the site using their public IP address for nearly 20 minutes. This outage cost an estimated $2.5 million, which works out to $163,622 per minute.

4. Gmail endures dual network failure

September 2013 – Gmail faced delays in delivering emails to its users. According to Google, this was caused by a dual network failure, which is a very rare event in which two separate, redundant network paths stop working at the same time. Google’s outage lasted for about 11 hours, affecting 29% of its users. Approximately 1.5% of its messages were delayed by more than two hours.

5. Living Social gives up sensitive data on 50M customers 

April 2013 – Living Social, the daily deals site was hacked, causing loss of sensitive data such as customer names, date of birth, email address and encrypted passwords of nearly 50 million customers. All customers were requested to change their passwords.

 6.  Dropbox goes dark then goes silent

January 2013 – Dropbox faced an outage lasting for nearly 15 hours, leaving all its users frustrated. Dropbox did not reveal the reason behind this outage, which added to the frustration.

7. CloudFlare goes down, takes 785K customer websites with it

March 2013 – CloudFlare, a company that protects websites and helps ensure better page loading performance, faced downtime for almost an hour. The rippling effect caused 785,000 websites to go down. This downtime was caused by a change pushed out to the company’s router. CloudFare has 23 data centers globally and noticed this failure when one of its customers faced a DDoS attack. To resolve this, CloudFlare had to remove the rule updated to its router and then physically access the routers for a hard reboot.

8. City of Akron hack redefines “public access”

May 2013 – The city of Akron (Ohio) website was hacked. Sensitive data, including Social Security and credit card numbers belonging to over 30,000 citizens were lost. The hacker was able to get into the city’s internal systems and later post them on a website.

9. NSA leak

June 2013 – Over 200,000 classified U.S documents of National Security Agency were stolen by a NSA contractor and were leaked to the press. This is one of the worst breaches in history for a secret agency.

No doubt, IT is evolving fast and getting better each day. However, with the emergence of new technologies, new threats arise. Mobile devices, cloud computing, and virtualization have each made enterprise security all the more complex, difficult, and essential.  A multi-pronged IT security strategy is indeed the requirement for 2014.