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Professional Indemnity Insurance For IT Professionals

As an I. T. professional, it is important that you have professional indemnity insurance to protect yourself, your business and your clients should they, or another third party, bring a complaint against you relating to your IT services. Depending on the type of work you do, you may find yourself being asked to pay financial recompense to the injured party due to errors in databases; viruses being ineffectively removed; loss of a client's professional documents; infringement of their intellectual property and a whole host of other issues that can occur from IT services allegedly not being properly administered, all of which can cause the customer to lose business and money. Having professional indemnity insurance will help you to pay clients what they are owed, if they are found to have a justified claim. The level of protection you will require depends on a number of factors including the size of your company, the type of work you do and the size of your client base. Having indemnity insurance may not only ensure that your business stays solvent in the event of a claim, but it also provides your customers with protection too - which marks you out as a responsible and reputable professial. That can only be good for business!

Information technology - what is the worst that can happen?

Here are a few great blunders made by IT professionals. Some of them are simple and small mistakes that only resulted in a little damage to the good name of the companies involved. Others are blunders that cost hundreds of millions of pounds.

Handy Man and His Talking Tools

In 2007, the Disney Channel website issued a porn video on their website in place of a cartoon with a handyman and his talking tools. What is most puzzling is how such an IT blunder was even possible. This is a kids channel from a company that produces content primarily for kids.

Was somebody in the company watching porn and posted that instead? Was the website hacked? Alternatively, was a disgruntled employee finally sick of his/her job and so posted porn on the site in order to give the finger to the company? Who knows why or how the video got on their site, but it certainly damaged the company once the news broke. (Fox News Report Kids See Porn)

Microsoft's Surface RT

Microsoft has taken an almost $1 billion write-off to cover unsold inventory. It was an IT blunder of epic proportions because people did not know what to make of their Surface device. The idea of having a tablet and laptop seems fine--until you try to operate it and you are caught between two worlds. It was also very expensive and wasn't exactly top of the line. It also didn't help that they paid Oprah to promote it and she posted a Twitter advert via her iPad (See Oprah's tweet here). Is there a prize for the least impressive advertisement in history?

Windows 8.1

You have to admit there has been a massive error when you release a new version of your operating system and it makes sales of the previous version go up. The release of Windows 8.1 saw quite a few sales, but they soon slowed as the operating system was reviewed more thoroughly. At that point, the older Windows 7 started selling a lot faster. There are currently more Windows 7 operating systems on computers than there are Windows 8 and 8.1 combined.

The Pentium Processor

In 1994, there was a fault with the Pentium Processor that was discovered by a mathematics professor. During normal use, it caused 0.006% of computer errors unless you were using your computer for advanced math (as the professor was). This technological error affected over 5 million computers and cost the company $500 million in total.

HD DVD

There are three things at fault here, and one of them made by IT professionals. The HD DVD was overtaken by Blu-Ray in the same way that Betamax was overtaken by VHS. One reason is because the IT engineers designed a disc that was too expensive to reproduce en masse when compared with Blu-ray, plus there were a lot of royalties arguments. Another reason is that Blu-Ray was marketed better. The third and most plausible reason is that Blu-Ray was manufactured en masse for pornography producers, which helped lower the production price further so that more companies used Blu-Ray.

Pirated Windows

The Windows Genuine Advantage system was placed within the Windows operating system a few years ago. The trouble was that in 2007, a glitch was accidentally inserted and thousands of new customers were told they were thieves. A good way to win and keep customers?

Up popped a warning window telling the customer that the operating system they just bought and installed was a pirate. Windows XP users were obviously furious and Microsoft had to deal with a lot of bad press. When Windows Vista was being developed, they actually considered not having anti-piracy software on initial releases because it was taking too long to test.

Yahoo? Or Google? Who knows ......

This was a simple but thoughtless mistake. The Yahoo Mail developers did a lot of research on what people preferred for their email provider. Many said they like the Hotmail interface and many said they liked the Gmail interface. The IT professionals decided to simply alter their inbox design to look like the Google Gmail interface! Hardly innovative and people were less than impressed. Google's response is not known but then imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Did Sony help spread viruses? Of course not.

Back in the days when we used CDs, the Sony Company didn't want people going onto their computer and ripping music to copy it. They installed a RootKit onto their CDs. This installed a piece of software that wouldn't allow the CD to be copied on the owner's computer - what we might now call malware. Hackers learnt about this and started designing viruses to hide along with the Rootkit. Soon the Rootkit became tagged as a virus by virus-checkers and Sony had to stop adding it.

The Airbus A380 $6bn loss

An IT failure was the reason the Airbus A380 was delayed by two years and cost an extra 6bn to build. It was built in different parts of Europe, but some were using CATIA 4 design software and some were using CATIA 5. When the pieces of the plane were brought together in one place they didn't fit together. Attempts to try to adapt the pieces were dropped when it become almost impossible to wire the separate pieces together. It is hardly surprising, since there was 530km of cabling, over 100,000 individual wires and more than 40,000 connectors.

The iCloud photo hack

Somebody hacked the iCloud account of Jennifer Lawrence and got naked pictures she had saved on there. Was this her fault for having a weak password or the IT professionals that maintain the website? Kate Upton was also hacked, though her pictures were just racy as opposed to naked. Either way, Apple released a statement shortly after saying they were going to beef up security on the iCloud.

Mars Climate Orbiter - a small misunderstanding.

This was a joint effort between the US and UK and in 1999 was supposed to send back information about the weather on Mars. The trouble was that the people in the UK were measuring in meters and the people in the US were measuring in feet. This little mistake cost over $327 million when the orbiter burnt up over Mars.

Maybe the best IT errors are the funniest ones

The best errors are the ones that circumvent common senses, such as the computer error saying your keyboard is not connected that then says press F1 to retry (fair enough) or F2 to abort! Erm ..... whick keyboard are they on ....?

The 2005 plague that killed hundreds of thousands

World of Warcraft is the most successful online game of our era and it has millions of players. In 2005, the creators added a character called Hakkar that infected game characters with a fatal disease called Corrupted blood. The effects were supposed to be localized to the place the character was, but players transported in and out and spread the game. This meant that the online disease spread around the World of Warcraft environment the same way a real disease may spread around the real world. It caused the first known online plague within a game and hundreds of thousands of people had to watch their WOW avatar/character die of disease.

The UNIX Millennium Bug

The Millennium bug caused more problems in the run up to the year 2000 than the actual bug itself did. People "fixed" their computers when there was nothing to fix and as a result they ruined their own technology. Other people hired cheap companies to fix their millennium bug, only to have the company mess up their system in the name of readiness.

Now there is the UNIX bug that works in a similar way to the Millennium bug. The UNIX operating system counts dates through counting how many seconds have passed since the date 01/01/1970. It uses a signed 32-bit integer, and its size limit is 2147483647. It can only handle 2147483647 seconds after the date 01/01/1970, which means on the 19th of January 2038 all UNIX based systems will need their calendars resetting. This is not so bad for many people, but it is going to mess up weather stations, appointment computers and any other device that uses UNIX and relies on the date to do its job.

We missed the hole in the OZONE layer

You are not supposed to release chemicals with CFCs in them because they deplete the OZONE, which is a layer of the atmosphere that filters out some of the harsher radiation from the sun. Yet, we used these chemicals for years without knowing the consequences. We could have discovered they were depleting the OZONE 7 years earlier if it were not for the IT professionals at NASA.

They developed software and testing devices that measured the OZONE layer, but they assumed it was a big layer that spread across the earth in the same way that water may spread across a work surface. In comparative terms, it turns out the OZONE layer spreads more like syrup, which means large holes, may appear in it. NASA didn't know this, so they build their detection devices and created software that ignored deviant readings. When they detected no (or very little) OZONE in one area, their own software ignored it as an anomalous reading. It was only in 1985 that they realized their software has been hiding holes in the OZONE for years!