Hawaii’s Emergency Management Service has come under intense scrutiny after a false alert regarding an inbound missile was sent out to residents and tourists over the weekend.
The state has indicated the incident occurred due to an employee choosing the wrong option from a drop-down menu on a computer program, The Washington Post reported.
Despite the management service’s assertion that the alert was an accident — not the result of a hack — a months-old photo taken in the agency’s headquarters has resurfaced, calling into question its security practices.
Social media users pointed out that an Associated Press photo from July depicts what appears to be a Post-it note taped to the bottom of a computer monitor — displaying a password of some sort.
The agency insists the password is “authentic” and was utilized for an “internal application,” according to Hawaii News Now.
Agency spokesman Richard Rapoza said he didn’t think the password was currently being used, though he declined to provide an explanation regarding what is was supposed to be for.
“It wasn’t for any major piece of software,” he said.
Rapoza acknowledged it was not wise to leave a password in plain view, especially when taking into consideration that news cameras had been allowed in the building.
The computer displayed in the photo is reportedly not tied to the system that issued the false alert.
Business Insider pointed out that although keeping a password taped to a computer monitor is certainly not secure, it isn’t always a threat to have your password written down.
For instance, one could stow the piece of paper inside a wallet — assuming the wallet can be kept secure.
Rapoza said the password criticism isn’t even the most absurd issue he has had to deal with this week.
He said there is an internet conspiracy circulating that the missile alert was actually real, and state officials attempted to cover it up.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Rapoza said. “People need to be careful what they read on the internet.”
State officials have apologized for the false alert, which was sent out to more than a million people, sparking panic throughout the island state.
“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL,” read the warning that residents and tourists received on their phones.
On TV screens, people were warned to find shelter indoors and remain away from windows.
It took 38 minutes after the warning first went out for the error to be rectified by an additional text message alert, though HEMA soon clarified on Twitter that there was “no missile threat.”
Following the false alert, Hawaii Governor David Ige pledged that something similar “won’t happen again.”
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