Worker who sent missile alert thought it was not a drill

31 January, 2018, 09:40 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • Hawaii alert

The Federal Communications Commission stated that the employee who actually pushed the alert button, believe an imminent attack was real.

A Hawaii state worker mistakenly believed a ballistic missile attack was under way when he sent a false alert that rattled residents for 38 minutes until officials could find a way to send a correction, federal regulators said. It will require two credentialed warning officers to sign in and validate the transmission of every alert and test.

Not only was the system new but managers chose to push it to its limits - simulating a live ballistic missile defense drill, with no notice, specifically as the shift changed at 8am.

The shift change occurred at 8am, and the midnight shift supervisor told the day shift supervisor about the decision to run the test at shift change.

What happened next is the ballistic missile version of Who's on First.

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When the night-shift manager called the day-shift staff pretending to be the military's Pacific Command, there was a lack of supervision, causing an employee to send the alert in error. The supervisor played a recorded message over the phone.

"The recording does not follow the script contained in HI-EMA's standard operating procedure for this drill", is the only explanation provided.

Why in fark would you design a drill that includes the phrase "This is not a drill", particularly in an audio drill?

It ended with the phrase: "Exercise, exercise, exercise". The employee said he didn't hear the word "exercise" repeated six times, though others clearly heard it.

Apparently, the employee who sent the alert heard "this is not a drill" but not "exercise, exercise, exercise". The FCC took another action today aimed at improving alerts set out during natural disasters.

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The worker who accidentally issued a missile alert really thought Hawaii was under attack.

. However, all other SWP members clearly heard, "EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE" at the beginning and end of the drill. So the agency can't "fully evaluate the credibility of their assertion".

Bruce Oliveira, the state's lead investigator on the incident, said the employee responsible for issuing the false alert had confused exercises for actual events in the past. There's also an "Are you sure that you want to send this Alert?" pop-up that appears before an alert goes out.

Alert-origination software didn't differentiate between tests and live alerts and wasn't hosted on separate domains or applications. News outlets quickly noticed an AP photo of Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency was circulating in reports and one of the computers in the room had its password written on a post-it stuck to the monitor. At least twice before the false alarm, he "has confused real life events and drills", a state investigation concluded, part of a troubled work history that had "been a source of concern ... for over 10 years" to his coworkers.

It also used prepared text that made it easy for a worker to click through the alerting process without focusing enough on the text of the warning that would be sent. FEMA agreed that criteria had been met to send out a correction alert to all phones through the emergency alert system.

For now, though, ballistic missile defense drills are on hold at HEMA pending the conclusion of the agency's own investigation.

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