The Hawaii Missile Alert Culprit: Poorly Chosen File Names

Jared Spool

January 19th, 2018

In this week’s article I discuss how poorly chosen file names led to an actual emergency alert text being sent out in place of a test.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Saturday morning, January 13, 2018 at 8:09am Hawaii time, a staff member of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency’s (HIEMA) State Warning Point office was going through their routine shift change checklist. They went through the same checklist every time they started their shift. It was routine. It wasn’t interesting.

At one point, they opened up their IPAWS alert software, retrieved a list of saved “templates” and picked one from a list of 9. What they picked was named PACOM (CDW)—STATE ONLY.

Only, this wasn’t the template file they meant to open. The template they meant to open was named DRILL—PACOM (CDW)—STATE ONLY. Other than the word DRILL in the file name, the two files were nearly identical. I say nearly, because there was one other difference: The drill version sent a message only to test devices, while the non-drill version sent the exact same message to every mobile phone in Hawaii.

Read the article: The Hawaii Missile Alert Culprit: Poorly Chosen File Names

If you want to make sure your design’s microinteractions are well designed, you should join us for Dan Saffer’s full-day workshop on Designing the Critical Details Using Microinteractions at the UX Immersion: Interactions conference in Newport Beach, March 5–7. You’ll spend a full day with Dan, learning about how to make your design’s little details seamless and delightful for your users. Give the workshop agenda a close look. 

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