Feeds

Computer error triggers mass rocket launch

Rise of the machines thwarted ... for now

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Americans love their fireworks on Independence Day, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing. That's what spectators got on July 4 in San Diego, California, when an errant computer triggered every rocket in the city's annual display to launch at once.

The pyrotechnics were meant to last 18 minutes. Instead, the whole show was over in roughly 15 seconds, after a deafening display that saw all five launch sites blast their missiles into the air simultaneously.

"We apologize for the brevity of the show," the Port of San Diego said in an understatement statement. "Approximately five minutes before the show was to start, a signal was sent to the barges that would set the timing for the rest of the show after the introduction." Although the signal had tested properly earlier, at showtime it triggered the mass launch.

The show was organized by New Jersey-based Garden State Fireworks, which has previously organized Independence Day fireworks displays for New York City and Washington, DC, among other high-profile shows. None had resulted in San Diego's simultaneous pyrogasm.

"There was a malfunction of the firing systems which ignite the fireworks," Garden State Fireworks co-owner August Santore said in an interview with NBC San Diego. "They were scheduled to be programmed for 15-16 minutes, and somehow, some sort of virus must have got into the program."

Although the company has yet to determine the exact nature of the glitch that caused the massive detonation, Santore claims it was definitely due to a software error in the computerized firing systems that ignite the fireworks.

"There was no malfunction in the pyrotechnics, nor was there any human error," Santore told NBC. "It was strictly a program glitch. Something happened in the program, which we're working vigorously to pinpoint."

Despite the malfunctioning system's best efforts, no casualties were reported. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
UK smart meters arrive in 2020. Hackers have ALREADY found a flaw
Energy summit bods warned of free energy bonanza
DRUPAL-OPCALYPSE! Devs say best assume your CMS is owned
SQLi hole was hit hard, fast, and before most admins knew it needed patching
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Mozilla releases geolocating WiFi sniffer for Android
As if the civilians who never change access point passwords will ever opt out of this one
Why weasel words might not work for Whisper
CEO suspends editor but privacy questions remain
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.