Holiday travelers returning to the United States from international locations on Monday were greeted with enormous lines and long waits at airports, thanks to a four-hour computer outage affecting U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
On the bright side, hackers were not involved. Instead, agency officials say that a software update initiated on December 28 caused the trouble, which lasted from 5pm EDT to about 9pm—just as hordes of U.S. tourists were returning from New Year's Day travels.
Many analysts argue that such glitches are inevitable, given the antiquated technology systems used by customs officers—and, for that matter, by the entire federal government. Since 2010, government spending for modernizing computers across the board has decreased by $7.3 billion, resulting in woefully outdated equipment.
Some in the Defense Department still use floppy disks, for heaven's sake.