Hawaii’s missile alert agency stored its passwords on Post-it Notes

hawaii emergency management agency stored passwords on post it notes ap center photo
It’s bad enough that North Korea continues to pursue its nuclear weapons program and the country is developing missiles capable of delivering those weapons to the United States. Adding fuel to the fire by scaring people to death doesn’t help, which is exactly what Hawaii Emergency Management Agency did when it issued an erroneous warning of impending ballistic missile attack. And apparently, it was a poorly designed system that was behind the faux pas — including passwords stored on Post-it Notes.

As Business Insider reports, the terrifying false alarm was the result of “an employee (pushing) the wrong button,” as Hawaii Governor David Ige attested. But with so many cyberattacks over the last few years, it’s natural to suspect that a hacker was at fault. As a picture posted in an Associated Press story published in July 2017 demonstrates, that suspicion is justified — the Post-it Note stuck on the lower left-hand display contains some system’s password, a real security risk.

hawaii emergency management agency stored passwords on post it notes ap center photo zoomed

That’s not the only issue that’s been identified. As Ars Technica pointed out, the system was simply poorly designed, with options that were not clearly labeled nor organized in a fashion to avoid confusion. The employee who kicked off the message has been “reassigned,” and the agency has now added an automated “false alarm” notification to make it easier to broadcast a correction. That’s a good thing, given that the former manual process required a full 38 minutes for a correction to be released.

It seems that Hawaii isn’t the only place where accidental missile warnings have caused distress. Japan also sent out an erroneous alert, via broadcaster NHK with the message, “NHK news alert. North Korea likely to have launched missile. The government J alert: evacuate inside the building or underground.” In this case, the message was retracted instantly, and the NHK subsequently issued an apology for the error.

Clearly, as geopolitical tensions heat up, these systems need to be fixed sooner rather than later.The Aesop fable The Boy Who Cried Wolf comes to mind, whereby false alerts could lead to complacency and citizens failing to respond should a real emergency arise.


Audi’s traffic light information system shows the challenges facing V2X tech

Audi’s traffic light information system is among the first commercial applications of potentially game-changing V2X tech. So how does it work in the real world? We spent a few days getting stuck at red lights to find out.

How three simple words could be the difference between life and death

What3Words’ app-based address system gives a three-word code to every three-meter-square patch on the planet, with its accuracy and ease of use now catching the attention of first responders in the U.K.
Social Media

A Facebook, Instagram bug exposed millions of passwords to its employees

Facebook, Facebook Lite, and Instagram passwords weren't properly encrypted and could be viewed by employees, the company said Thursday. The network estimates millions of users were affected.
Movies & TV

Study up for season 8 with the best Game of Thrones theories

Season 8 of Game of Thrones is still on the horizon, meaning there's still time to brush up on the best theories about the show. Whether you're one of the last adherents of the Cleganebowl or a King Aerys truther, here are our top theories.

Get the most out of your high-resolution display by tweaking its DPI scaling

Windows 10 has gotten much better than earlier versions at supporting today's high-resolution displays. If you want to get the best out of your monitor, then check out our guide on how to adjust high-DPI scaling in Windows 10.

Got gadgets galore? Keep them charged up with the 10 best USB-C cables

We're glad to see that USB-C is quickly becoming the norm. That's why we've rounded up some of the better USB-C cables on the market, whether you're looking to charge or sync your smartphone. We've got USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A.

Looking for a Chromebook? The Google PixelBook just got a $200 price cut

Once relatively obscure, Chromebooks have come into their own in a big way in recent years. One of our favorites is the super-sleek Google Pixelbook, and it's on sale right now from Amazon for $200 off, letting you score this premium laptop…

Nvidia’s GTX 1650 graphics card could be just a slight upgrade over the 1050 Ti

Rumors suggest Nvidia might soon launch the GTX 1650, and a leaked benchmark listing from Final Fantasy XV suggests that the new graphics card could be just a slight upgrade over last generation's GTX 1050 Ti. 

Get ready to say goodbye to some IFTTT support in Gmail by March 31

If This Then That, the popular automation service, will drop some of its support for Gmail by March 31. The decision comes as a response to security concerns and is aimed to protect user data.

Get the new Dell XPS 13 for $750 with this limited-time deal

Dell is currently running a limited time deal lasting through Thursday, March 28, where you can bring home a version of this year's new XPS 13 for around $750 with the use of a special coupon code. 

This is the easiest way to save your iPhone data to your computer

Living in fear of losing your contacts, photos, messages, and notes on your iPhone? Fear no more -- in this guide, we'll break down exactly how to back up your iPhone to your computer using Apple's iTunes or to the cloud with iCloud.

Here are the best iPad Pro keyboard cases to pick up with your new tablet

The iPad Pro range can double as laptops, but they do need proper keyboards to fill in effectively. Thankfully, there are loads to choose from and we rounded up the best iPad Pro keyboard cases right here.

Microsoft’s Clippy came back from the dead, but didn’t last very long

Before Cortana, Alexa, and Siri even existed, Microsoft Clippy dominated the screens of computers in the 1990s to help assist Microsoft Office users when writing letters. He recently made a bit of a comeback only to die off again.

Nvidia faces attacks from AMD, Intel, and even Google. Should it be worried?

Nvidia announced an expanded array of RTX server solutions designed to leverage the power of ray-tracing at GTC 2019. The effort will help Nvidia take on Google's Stadia in game streaming with GeForce Now, and the company's investments in…