January 17, 2018, 09:13 PM GMT+5:30
A password for the Hawaii emergency agency was hiding in a public photo, written on a post-it note
- A false alarm was broadcast to Hawaii on Saturday warning of an inbound missile.
- In the days following the alert, people discovered that a photo taken in Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency for a newspaper article in July includes a sticky note with a password on it.
- Hawaii says the false alarm was because an employee “pushed the wrong button,” not because it was hacked, but the photo sparked criticsm from the security industry about the general level of security at the agency.
Over the weekend, people who lived in Hawaii were awakened by a terrifying false missile alert . It turned out that it was a ” mistake ,” according to Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency, which said that the emergency system had not been hacked. Instead, the agency said a worker had clicked the wrong item in a drop-down menu .
“It was a mistake made during a standard procedure at the change over of a shift, and an employee pushed the wrong button,” Hawaii Gov. David Ige said.
But a photo from July recently resurfaced on Twitter raises questions about the agency’s cybersecurity practices. In it, Hawaii EMA’s current operations officer poses in front of a battery of screens.
Attached to one of the screens is a password written on a post-it note.
Hawaii’s EMA didn’t immediately respond to a request for more information.
While these computers are likely different from the system that sent the false missile alert, the photo does raise questions about the general approach to security at the agency that may have led to the scary situation on Saturday. (On the other screen, a post-it note reminds the user to “SIGN OUT.”)
Writing down passwords isn’t a strict security no-no, with some security experts suggesting that keeping a hard copy of a password in your wallet is a defensible decision if you can keep the piece of paper secure . Obviously, a post-it note on a monitor is not secure, especially if it’s protecting computer systems dedicated to keeping people safe.
Here’s what the Hawaii EMA system that sent the false alert on Saturday looks like:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kif is a reporter at Business Insider covering Apple and the technology industry. His favorite topics include augmented reality, machine learning, and electric cars. If you have story ideas or tips, you can get in touch at kleswing@or 703 200 1678. Thank you and have a great day!
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