New Year's Bug Blamed for Emergency Response Systems Glitch

Carol Wallace

On New Year’s Day, internet-connected citizens across the United States, Canada and Israel experienced an unusual phenomenon. Web browsers were re-directed to a blank, white login page asking each user to create a login and password. Each page was stamped with the appropriate government agency seal for the nation in question and the words “Emergency Information System.” Many users, fearing a phishing scam and paranoid that their machines had been hijacked by malware or a virus, shut their computers down. Those who did create a login and password reported that, so far as they could tell, no personal information was requested.

Today, the US Department of Homeland Security formally acknowledged that the system is a legitimate one. Department Secretary Janet Napolitano admitted that the system was not yet fully functional, and that the mysteriously appearing login page popped up due to an unfortunate New Year’s glitch. She reassured the public that those who had already created login information would be receiving more information on the utility of the system in upcoming weeks, and that the formal launch of the service in the US was forthcoming. She admitted that the system was being developed by the United States along with its Canadian and Israeli allies, as a means of disseminating emergency information widely and quickly in case of another incident such as Yama’s Apocalypse.

She said: “I know this glitch has frightened some people. It looks very `Big Brother’ to have your web browser redirected like this. I can assure everyone that this is not an intrusive system. The end user will be in control of how much information they want to receive and how fully they want to participate in this early-warning system. I have every faith that people will come to see that the value of having this sort of system at their fingertips will allay any concerns down the road.”

New Year's Bug Blamed for Emergency Response Systems Glitch

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