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Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2018 07:04:45 -0700

*The New York Times*, 13 Jan 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/13/us/hawaii-missile.html

Vern T. Miyagi, the administrator of the agency, said that during the
drill, an unidentified employee mistakenly pushed a button on a computer
screen to send out the alert, rather than one marked to test it. He said
the employee answered *yes* when asked by the system if he was sure he
wanted to send the message. [PGN-ed]

Computer users are all too familiar with the decades old hazard of "Are you sure you want to *****?" Much havoc has ensured when a user or system manager types a command, only to reflexively confirm it. Systems have shut down, files lost, and many other serious consequences. This feature is present on a wide range of systems, including Tenex, OpenVMS, MS-DOS, and
Windows (My recollection is that *IX systems do not ask for confirmation, they just "do it").

Perhaps, critical systems (e.g., Emergency Warning Systems) might be better off adopting a different approach. Users responding to a confirmation prompt all too often fall into the trap of confirming by reflex.

A better approach might be to require two operators at different consoles, separated physically by a sufficient distance, to BOTH command critical actions (e.g., sending out an all mobile phones alert). Had such a
"two-person" rule applied, it is likely that two independent individuals would not have made the same error.

Bob Gezelter, http://www.rlgsc.com

[Dave Horsfall added: Now that we know that the automatic bulk alert works
just fine, why was there no automatic bulk retraction designed into it?
Surely right next to the Big Red Button (no, not that one) should be a Big
Red "OOPS!" Button?

Lauren Weinstein added: You can excuse the good people of Hawai'i if they
consider all future alerts on that system with an extreme degree of
skepticism. Any system that permits an error like this needs to be ripped
out by the roots and tossed into a dumpster, along with whomever is in
charge of it.

Rob Wilcox noted this: http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/37271628/officials-release-image-of-hiema-screen-that-triggered-incorrect-missile-alert

Gabe Goldberg had this to add: http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2018/01/hawaiian-emergency-management-officials-hold-interview-post-notes-passwords-computer-screens/
Maybe Amazon can recommend invisible ink when Post-It notes are purchased.


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