The Hawaii office responsible for putting out the false missile alert that sparked chaos on the island is back in the news again today, after an Associated Press photo revealed an operations officer’s secret password.
The photo, originally published in July, shows the employee at Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency standing next to his desk.
But eagle-eyed viewers spotted a Post-it note stuck to his computer screen.
Scrawled across it was his password. It’s assumed the operations officer has since changed his password.
An Associated Press photo of the Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency office revealed an operations officer’s secret password
The photo showed a Post-it stuck to the employee’s computer screen with his password across it
The photo has ignited concerns about the agency’s security and the ease of which hackers could target an important government department.
But the blunder may not be so surprising from an agency which caused widespread panic when they put out a fake missile alert.
HEMA issued an alert at around 8am on Saturday, which read: ‘Emergency Alert: BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.’
The agency then failed to cancel the alert for 38 minutes, sparking widespread panic among the 1.4million people who live on the island.
The alert was sent to mobile phones and broadcast on television and radio by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HEMA) shortly after 8am on Saturday
Police dispatchers in Hawaii found out in minutes than an alert warning of an incoming ballistic missile was a false alarm but struggled to inform panicked islanders that there was no threat
Cars drive past a highway sign that says ‘MISSILE ALERT ERROR THERE IS NO THREAT’ on the H-1 Freeway in Honolulu following the false alarm last weekend
Fearing a nuclear attack, terrified residents and tourists ran for their lives, taking cover in shelters, like basketball legend Magic Johnson, their garages and even lowered loved ones through manhole covers.
One man even suffered a massive heart attack minutes after the false missile alert in Hawaii.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday that Sean Shields, 51, started violently throwing up while at Sandy Beach on Oahu after the alert and called his 10-year-old daughter and adult son to say goodbye.
Then he drove himself and his girlfriend to a health center where she says he collapsed in the waiting room. Shields’ girlfriend, Brenda Reichel, says medical staff performed CPR and transported the man to a hospital, where he had emergency surgery.
Sean Shields, pictured with girlfriend Brenda Reichel, suffered a heart attack during the false missile alert that shook Hawaii on Saturday
‘The whole thing just took him over the edge… The stress brought on a heart attack,’ Reichel told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. She added that doctors had told him that he ‘died’ briefly, but that now he is ‘lucid and cognitive’.
On the H-3, a major highway north of Honolulu, vehicles sat empty after drivers left them to run to a nearby tunnel after the alert showed up, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.
Golfers in Honolulu for the US PGA Tour’s Sony Open were also thrown into panic and confusion by the mistaken alert.
‘Under mattresses in the bathtub with my wife, baby and in laws,’ tweeted American golfer John Peterson. ‘Please lord let this bomb threat not be real.’
Some sent heartfelt messages to their families and loved ones, convinced they might not make it.
The false alarm was sent at about 8am local time by a Hawaii Emergency Management employee who ‘pushed the wrong buttons’ during an internal drill timed to coincide with a shift handover. The all-clear phone alert was not sent until 38 minutes later.
The smartphone screen capture shows the retraction of a false incoming ballistic missile emergency alert sent from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency
In this initial photo from the Governor’s Office/State of Hawaii, the screen that set off the ballistic missile alert Saturday is shown. The operator was said to have clicked the PACOM (CDW) State Only link instead of the drill link
The above image released Tuesday night is a screen grab officials say ‘better represents’ the computer design the employee was looking at Saturday
The mistake was corrected by government agencies on Twitter 12 minutes later but it took 38 minutes for another phone alert to be issued confirming to residents that it was a false alarm. Some say they never received a second phone alert at all.
The computer menu design behind the accidental missile alert that caused chaos across Hawaii Saturday has since been revealed.
In the initial photo released by the Honolulu Civil Beat late Monday, ten links placed close together in a column are shown.
The Civil Beat previously reported that the emergency operator intended to click on the ‘DRILL – PACOM (CDW) -STATE ONLY’ link, but instead, clicked on the ‘PACOM (CDW) – STATE ONLY’ link, which was placed just two lines above.
Government officials revealed late Tuesday that the below screen grab represents an ‘inaccurate image’ of the computer screen the emergency official had been using at the time of the statewide alert.
‘I woke up this morning in Hawaii with ten minutes to live,’ the ‘Truman Show’ actor wrote
Below, officials say is the new screen grab which ‘better represents’ the design, according to the Civil Beat.
The mistake led to the faulty alert which was sent to cellphones around the state, warning of an incoming missile attack last weekend.
Gov. David Ige has announced his plans to appoint a state Army National Guard official to oversee a review of Hawaii’s emergency management process.
Ige appointed state Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Kenneth Hara on Monday and said he will provide a report in two months.
Some changes have already been made, including requiring two people to approve emergency alerts.
Officials said a state employee clicked the wrong link and activated a real alert instead of an internal test. There was no system for retracting the false alarm.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Tuesday the agency will work with states to follow proper protocols when issuing safety alerts and quickly retracting incorrect alerts like Hawaii’s warning of a ballistic missile.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige and Maj. Gen. Joe Logan were on hand for a press conference at Civil Defense at Diamond Head Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, following the false alarm
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, said it’s clear that human error initiated the false alert. But she worries that system failures allowed it to go uncorrected for too long, nearly 40 minutes.
‘This had the potential for being totally catastrophic,’ Hirono said.
Nielsen told a Senate panel the department had been unaware that Hawaii officials did not have a mechanism in place to address false alarms and retract them.
She also said the Department of Homeland Security is examining how the U.S. government can quickly verify the accuracy of alerts with agencies such as the Department of Defense.
Hawaii officials said they had to wait for approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to send the missile alert retraction.
Ige also said that he had requested the ability to test the mobile alert system, but that the effort had been ‘blocked nationwide.’