It looks like Kim Jong Un is scaring the world again, only this time he didn’t have to do any saber rattling. Just like on Saturday when Hawaii made national news with the North Korean missile scare, all it took was a button happy technician to send an entire country into panic.
This morning a Tokyo public broadcaster mistakenly sent an alert warning citizens of a North Korean missile launch and urging them to seek immediate shelter, then minutes later corrected it. NHK said the mistake was the result of an error by a staff member who was operating the alert system. Unlike the mistaken Hawaii warning, the NHK alert did not contain the statement, “This is not a drill” and was able to correct its error in a few minutes, far faster than the nearly 40 minutes that lapsed before the Hawaii alert was withdrawn.
Here in Hawaii, we’ve changed our protocols to now require two people to send an alert and made it easier to cancel a false alarm. I suspect that Japan will soon have to put similar security measures into place.
By the way, are any of these false missile scares starting to sound familiar?
If anyone remembers the 1983 the movie Wargames, the premise is about a hacker that gains access to NORAD’s missile launch control centers and creates havoc by initiating fake missile strikes against the US from the Soviet Union.
That same year, on September 26th, 1983 during the height of the cold ware the Soviet Union’s nuclear early-warning system reported the launch of multiple USAF Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles from bases in the United States. Although quickly identified as false alarms by Soviet Air Defense Forces, it probably would have resulted in immediate escalation of the cold-war stalemate to a full-scale nuclear war (Wikipedia).
Could it be the work of a hacker or clever social engineer? Time will tell.
Stay safe out there.