Many people have had a difficult year in 2021, particularly with the continued coronavirus restrictions and many schools and businesses remaining remote. The demand for online services was high and the Big Tech Masters of the Universe could not keep up. These are the top tech failures of 2021.
While technology is a powerful tool when it works well, there have been many instances this year when Silicon Valley has failed to deliver. There have been many instances of technological error in 2021, including internet outages and ransomware attacks that can cause crippling damage to the computer system. These are the top tech failures of 2021.
It was reported in April that hackers had stolen half a million Facebook user’s personal data, including Mark Zuckerberg’s. Facebook stated at the time that similar data had been stolen from users’ profiles in 2019, and that the issue that enabled the hack was fixed that year. However, it highlighted the fragility of security for many of these companies.
Dave Walker, a security expert, noted that Zuckerberg used Signal encrypted messaging services at the time of the leak of his phone number. “Mark Zuckerberg is also using an encrypted chat app, Signal, to protect his privacy. This is not owned by @facebook. Walker tweeted that this is the number associated to his account in the recent Facebook leak.
Large swathes of the internet were completely offline in June. It happened twice in a matter of weeks. Two tech companies that most people have never heard of were responsible for the outages. One was Fastly, and the other was Akamai.
Fastly is an internet content delivery network that serves many popular websites such as Reddit and Amazon. Fastly was able to get most websites back online in under an hour. However, this did not prevent widespread chaos.
Akamai Technologies was hit with a similar outage on June 17th. It caused multiple websites to go down, including those of Southwest Airlines, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Akamai’s issues were resolved in four hours, and most customers affected were only offline for minutes.
Amazon’s cloud computing service was down in December. This affected access to Disney+ and Slack as well as Netflix and Hulu. It also disrupted Amazon’s logistics operations during the holiday season.
Facebook, now called Meta, has also experienced major outages. Facebook was offline the night Frances Haugen, a Facebook “whistleblower”, appeared on 60 Minutes to make accusations of the company’s spreading hate speech and misinformation. Later, Haugen provided documents to Wall Street Journal which resulted in the “Facebook Files”.
A few days later, all Facebook services, including WhatsApp and Instagram, were down for hours because of an unexpected “server configuration switch.” Employees were then locked out of Facebook offices due to their keycards being inaccessible due to the Facebook security system being linked with the same malfunctioning system. The system was restored online within hours.
Ransomware was a big issue in 2021, as hackers exploited the modern world’s dependence on technology. After a massive cyberattack, Colonial Pipeline, one of America’s largest fuel pipelines, was hit with ransomware and had to be shut down.
Hackers gained access to the password that was compromising the pipeline’s security and took control of its systems. Colonial Pipeline’s CEO agreed to pay a ransom of $4.4million to regain control over the network and to get the company back on its feet. In June, U.S. Justice Department investigators claimed that they had recovered $2.3 million worth of cryptocurrency as part of the hack.