The emergency worker who panicked and pushed the button to issue a false public safety alert warning of a ballistic missile threat on Hawaii actually “believed” the island was really under imminent attack.
According to the FCC, the employee misheard a recorded message as part of an unscheduled drill and issued the alert based on hearing the last half of the message.
The employee apparently did not hear the first half of the message that stated “Exercise, exercise, exercise.”
As a result, he followed emergency protocol and transmitted the missile alert which required him to push one button and then push it again to confirm the decision without consulting a supervisor.
“There were no procedures in place to prevent a single person from mistakenly sending a missile alert” in Hawaii, said James Wiley, a cyber security and communications reliability staffer at the FCC.
There was no requirement to double-check with a colleague or get a supervisor’s approval, he said.
The alert caused panic in the state for nearly 40 minutes because the Governor forgot his Twitter password and couldn’t correct the information quickly.
The FCC says the incident was caused by a combination of human error and improper safeguards.
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