Software/ platforms

The VOID announces 2024 Report

Public Incident Report Database Continues to Expand Mission of Fostering Open Discussion in Security Community

Report Calls for Software Industry to Rethink Automation Strategies, Focusing on Collaboration, Adaptability and the Irreplaceable Value of Human Involvement

Today, The VOID announced its 2024 VOID Report titled, “Exploring the Unintended Consequences of Automation in Software.” This report highlights the multifaceted roles of automation in incidents, often revealing its potential to exacerbate rather than alleviate problems.

Since its launch just over three years ago, The VOID has drawn from a comprehensive analysis of over 10,000 VOID reports and a detailed industry survey, the findings challenge prevailing myths about the duration, severity, and Mean Time to Recovery (MTTR) of software incidents, offering new perspectives on incident analysis and the role of automation.

This year’s report delves deeper into the evolving landscape of automation, its impact on software incident management, and the necessary human involvement that remains critical to resolving complex issues. Key findings include:

Automation Has Multiple, Different Roles in Incidents:

  • While automation is primarily designed to take tasks off human hands and alert only when things go wrong, it often ends up being a contributing factor to incidents and is unable to solve them independently. Automation frequently plays multiple roles within a single incident.

Automation Can Unexpectedly Make Things Worse:

  • Automation can contribute to an incident but functions in ways that exacerbate the situation. This includes retry storms, interference with access to automated logs/data, unexpected interactions with other components, misconfigurations, and other hindrances. Additionally, automated processes can make troubleshooting or understanding the situation more challenging.

Humans Regularly Have to Intervene:

  • The data illustrate that more often than not (75% of the time), humans are required to step in when automation doesn’t work as intended. These situations are typically more complex and trickier to debug than what the automation was designed for.

The report makes clear that businesses should develop approaches where humans and automation work together to enhance system reliability and operational outcomes. It is a call to action for the software industry to rethink automation strategies, focusing on collaboration, adaptability, and the irreplaceable value of human intervention in managing and resolving software incidents.

“When we started The VOID, our goal was to make the internet a more resilient place, with fewer outages and better practices. Our 2024 report focuses on the complexity of automation and AI as a solution, and its implications for software,” said Courtney Nash, creator of The VOID. “As we navigate the complexities of automation in software, it’s clear that a more nuanced understanding and approach are needed. Our findings aim to bridge the gap between expectations and reality, advocating for a future where automation and human expertise collaborate to create more resilient and reliable software systems.”

The VOID will continue to help solve and structure the process for collecting incident reports to help improve the software running key areas such as transportation, infrastructure, power grids, healthcare devices, voting systems, autonomous vehicles, and many critical societal functions. Community members can make the database more comprehensive by submitting any reports that aren’t included in The VOID with this short form.

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