Biggest Tech Scandals of 2019

by Elsa Stringer

The tech industry has its fair share of fails, but 2019 seems to have been especially humiliating for tech companies of all sizes. Here is our pick of the biggest disasters that have befallen tech sector.

Huawei VS FedEx

Trump administration’s trade war with China had unexpected consequences for journalists as well. PC Mag UK tried to ship a Huawei phone to their colleagues in the United States for testing. Unfortunately, the parcel got caught up in the trade war between Beijing and Washington. Nobody over at the FedEx knew how to deal with the issue, so they simply returned it to London, marking it with the following message: “Parcel returned by FedEx, due to US government issue with Huawei and China government.” It took two additional tries for the hone to finally make it across the pond.


You would be hard-pressed to find a bigger IPO horror story than that of WeWork. Among other things, it led to a quarterly loss of $1.25 billion, a $10 billion bailout by the primary investor SoftBank, and firing of a CEO. Adam Neumann may have let his love for drinking tequila and smoking weed on the job get a bit out of hand. Either way, the IPO was completely botched, but the real losers aren’t Neumann, who had a golden parachute, or the investors. Thousands of employees are at risk of losing their job over something they had absolutely no control over.

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold Disaster

When Samsung presented its $2,000 Galaxy Fold smartphone, everyone was in awe. Unfortunately, the feeling lasted for about ten seconds, or as long as it took the first reviewer to get their hands on the phone and try folding it. The protective film over the screen immediately cracked and started coming off. The ensuing PR nightmare still follows Samsung and it is unclear who is responsible for this debacle.

Apple’s FaceTime Bug

Apple’s FaceTime bug allowed people to randomly spy on other people’s FaceTime conversations. To make matters worse, it was a teenager who discovered it, managing something an entire Apple development team failed to do. Eventually, they issued a fix, but that to was a debacle, as it took them wat too much time to come up with one.

NordVPN and TorGuard Breaches

VPNs are supposed to keep us anonymous and safe on the Internet, masking our IP address from prying eyes. But when VPNs themselves are hacked, there is nowhere to hide, either for their users or themselves. That is exactly what happened to NordVPN and TorGuard. After the breach, the question everyone was asking is how we can trust them with our security when they can’t keep their own companies safe.

Facebook’s Libra Announcement

Facebook is having a very bad year and the next one promises to be even worse. Their cavalier approach to people’s privacy has finally caught up with them and it isn’t a pretty sight. However, in a sea of PR disasters that have befallen Mark Zuckerberg, one stands out. His appearance in front of the US Congress gave birth to numerous memes and some very serious concerns. One of them was how Zuck addressed Libra, a digital currency Facebook is planning to release. His testimony has led to several major investors dropping out of Libra Association.

US Customs Face and License Plates Hack

When reports about US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) breach came out, nobody was really surprised. At this point, we are kinda used to the idea that government agencies are simply incapable of keeping our data private. Private contractors tracking us over license plate recognition cameras was a new one, though.

June Ovens Preheat Bug

On paper, smart appliances look great. In practice, however, they appear to be more of a nuisance than 21-century solutions. June Ovens is one of them. A bug in the software caused ovens to spontaneously start preheating. Not only it is a waste of energy, but it is a considerable fire risk.

Capital One Data Breach

More than 100 million people were affected by one of the biggest data breaches in history. Capital One’s firewall has been set up incorrectly and a woman from Seattle managed to get access to their database. This is a second breach Capitol One was involved in. In the first, over 140,000 social security numbers and linked bank accounts were exposed.

Asus Update with A Virus

Official manufacturers’ updates aren’t something we pay much attention to. It is just a piece of software that needs to be downloaded, installed, and forgot about. That is exactly what thousands of Asus users did, and that is how their troubles started. It turned out that Asus Live Update had a hole and somebody used it to install malicious software on thousands, maybe even million computers.

Facebook Employees Run Fake Portal Reviews

In an effort to curb the massive flood of negative reviews coming from disgruntled users, v employees tried to astroturf their own reviews on Amazon. They were caught and shamed for it.

Instagram Phishing Scams

If you have spent any time on Instagram, you know how much the app is besieged by scams and scammers. This year’s biggest scandal was when Turkish hackers tried to talk people into giving them their login data in exchange for verified badges.

Selling ‘Snake Oil Crypto’ at Black Hat

We are not sure about the mental process of someone who decides that the Black Hat security conference, one of the largest gatherings of online security experts, is a great place to try and peddle your snake oil digital coins. Anyway, it failed magnificently, amid the audience booing and jeering the speakers, who ended up suing the organizers.

Firefox Bug

All browsers occasionally suffer from security bugs and Mozilla Firefox is not an exception. The bug in question was used to target employees of the Coinbase crypto exchange before it was patched.

Facebook’s Onavo VPN Scandal

Facebook just can’t catch a break this year. Maybe if they would stop gathering everyone’s data obsessively, at least some of their problems would go away, but at this point, they are acting like a junkie, doing everything they can just to get that next fix. They even scooped users’ data from their own VPN, which is why it was promptly banned from Apple Store. Facebook tried to go around the ban, resulting in Apple revoking their developer certificate.’s Google Search Scam

Even some experts, like journalists over at PCMag, were fooled by the scam. A lot of people fell for it before it was finally exposed and shut down.

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