Lemont Police Continue Investigation into Hacked Tornado Sirens
Lemont Police Chief Kevin Shaughnessy said it will be tough to track down the person responsible for setting off all seven tornado sirens Sunday, July 1.
Lemont police are still investigating who or what set off the village's seven tornado sirens July 1, Chief Kevin Shaughnessy said Monday.
"It appears that someone defeated our system and activated the sirens," Shaughnessy said. "... We're still trying to determine who did it. It's a pretty tough job."
Shaughnessy said police believe the hacker is likely someone who is knowledgable in technology and communication. Police are also investigating individuals who may have had access to emergency activation codes.
Lemont officials initially believed a mechanical malfunction was to blame for setting off the sirens multiple times between 9:15 p.m. and 11 p.m. Sunday, despite quiet, clear conditions.
All seven sirens were taken offline while officials investigated the incident. Power was restored just before noon July 2.
That afternoon, Shaughnessy announced that police had reason to believe the system was hacked by an unauthorized signal. A similar incident was reported in Evanston the day before, he said.
"After meeting with our contractor concerning what happened to Lemont’s system, there is a strong possibility that we too were hacked and an unauthorized signal was sent, (repeatedly) setting off our system," Shaughnessy said.
On July 2, village officials met with the system's contractor, Federal Signal Corporation, to update the system and prevent similar incidents in the future.
From now on, the sirens will be activated through unique radio signals that will make the system more difficult to compromise, according to Lemont Emergency Management Director Tom Ballard, who operates the sirens.
The Lemont Police Department is working with the Federal Communications Commission, Cook County Homeland Security Department, City of Evanston and Federal Bureau of Investigation as they continue to investigate the incident.
Should police find the person who hacked the system, he or she could face federal felony charges, Shaughnessy said.
"The investigation continues and we hope that no further breaches of our system occur," he said.
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