Feeds

Computer error triggers mass rocket launch

Rise of the machines thwarted ... for now

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

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. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Jihadi terrorists DIDN'T encrypt their comms 'cos of Snowden leaks
Intel bods' analysis concludes 'no significant change' after whistle was blown
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
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?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.