Saturday, January 13, 2018


Let me guess: The alert was not an accident.

I'm assuming that the systems and procedures have been in place since the 60's. If the system were that subject to false alarms, we'd have had a few other alerts by now. If the system is reliable, then the probability is high that this was deliberate. Whodunit?

  1. Some Hawaiian official, trying to make a point? Unlikely; it would require amazing stupidity not to realize that people could get hurt, and that this would be at best career-ending and more likely incarceration-beginning. (Hmm. We hear about people like that regularly...)
  2. China or NKorea hacking the system, probing to see what our response is like? If so, then they trust Trump a lot--that's kind of risky business.
  3. Anonymous or a script kiddie with a malicious streak? I'd vote for this one. I can very easily believe that the Hawaii government computer/network security is no good.

On the other hand, maybe Hawaii was trying to re-implement the old systems, and has a terrible test environment. That's really easy to believe too.

UPDATE: The story now is that during a shift change someone pushed the wrong button. From the rest of the story I get the impression that they hadn't been doing this very long. So, not software, but a klutzy system with no cross-checks. It was the second option, and they were trying to resurrect the system rather than re-implement it.


jaed said...

UI problems, I got the impression. They press the "Test" button every day as a matter of routine, and the "Real Thing" button was on the same screen, and it sounds like it brought up the same confirmation dialog as the Test button. So if you hit the wrong button, with brain in neutral, then you just proceed along the familiar path without realizing what you're doing. Oops.

What I wonder is why it took almost an hour to send out the "Oops" message. Did they not figure out right away that it was a mistake? Or were they (I hate to suggest it) trying to do some sort of butt-covering during that time?

james said...

Or trying to figure out what happened.

"One of the sawmill workers lost a finger while operating a band saw. When the supervisor asked him what happened he said 'I just put my hand right here and . . . DARN! There goes ANOTHER one!'"