Mixed-Up Numbers: IT Expert Causes Damage Amounting to 14.000 Euros
When we at exali write about risks in business, it’s often about small mistakes that lead to major damage. We often use classic typos or mixed-up numbers as examples. Sometimes we get incredulous comments like “that can’t happen in real life” or “that’s an exaggeration”. But we don’t make these cases up - they really happen! The following damage event that happened to an IT service provider insured through exali proves that once again.
IT Problems with Digital Mail Delivery
The starting point for this damage event was a company that processes its correspondence via Digital Mail Delivery. The company sends its letters electronically from its internal customer database to the post office, which takes care of the further processing from printing to delivery.
However, due to a processing error in the software, around 50 documents could not be processed by Digital Mail Delivery from a certain date, which means they could not be sent. The company hired an IT service provider to fix the problem. He was supposed to ensure that the documents were generated again and sent properly.
Mixed-Up Numbers: 17.000 Instead of 50 Letters Sent
To create the files again, the IT service provider had to write a script, i.e. a short sequence of commands, for the database query on the test environment.
A database query is a targeted search for data in stored, structured or unstructured sources. A test environment is a technical and organisational infrastructure that is used to test software.
Among other things, the IT service provider had to enter the date on which the error first occurred and on which the letters were to be regenerated and sent. It was actually a short period of time and around 50 documents.
But in the process the expert made a serious mix-up with the numbers: He mistyped the date and thus included a much larger period of time from which the letters were to be sent. To make matters worse, he didn’t notice that the interface was connected to the live server when the documents were created. So the documents created in the supposedly secure test environment were processed directly as an email order.
So the order went straight to Digital Mail Delivery, which sent over 17.000 documents instead of the 50 letters – the costs for postage, shipping and the necessary legal advice for the management amounted to around 14.000 euros!
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Mixed-Up Numbers Damage a Company’s Image
But that’s not all. Since there were also a lot of bills amongst the letters that were sent twice, the company soon received calls from unsettled and angry recipients. The company had its hands full trying to appease its customers and limit the damage to its image.
Incidentally, such momentous numerical errors can not only occur in programming, but also when creating advertisements, as one of our policyholders found out in this case: Real Exali Damage Event: Comma Error Causes the Cost of Facebook Advertising to Explode
Well-Insured Thanks to the Professional Indemnity for Digital Professions
And the IT service provider? Fortunately, he had taken out a Professional Indemnity Insurance through exali, so he was off the hook. The insurer took over payment of damages amounting to around 14.000 euros to the company concerned, because the Professional Indemnity for Digital Professions through exali insures financial damage to third parties (e.g. principals) if it was caused by a mistake in your freelance work .
This case shows that it doesn’t always have to be a major programming error or a huge data leak that leads to major damage in the IT area. A few mixed-up numbers are enough. With the Professional Indemnity Insurance through exali, you’re fully covered in your work in the IT industry – for errors both large and small.
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Who am I?
After a traineeship and a few years in corporate communications, I now work at exali as editor-in-chief of the online editorial department and am responsible for all content.
What do I enjoy?
Summer, travel, good food and football.
What do I dislike?
Travel by train, Brussels sprouts and slime.