Prisoners caught hacking prison network with pilfered computer parts

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Crafty prisoners tasked with recycling computer parts not only managed to hide some of the parts they were tasked with processing but managed to put together two computers using those parts to hack the prison itself.

The tale worthy of a Hollywood movie comes from the Marion Correctional Institution in Marion, Ohio, where it was discovered that inmates had built two computers, connected them to the prison’s network and hid them in the ceiling of the prison. Then they used the computers to apply for phony credit cards, make bogus prison security clearances and download hacking tools, porn and articles on drug manufacturing, among other things, according to the BBC.

Details of the devious ruse have only come to light now through a report from the Ohio Inspector General, who found that the computers were actually found in July 2015 but neither the former warden nor prison officials immediately contacted the Ohio State Police or the Ohio Inspector General as state policy dictates. It gets worse. The report found that the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, which was made aware of the discovery, failed to report suspected illegal activity, follow crime scene protection or password security policy, failed to supervise inmates and protect information technology resources, and failed to follow State of Ohio asset management policy.

Ultimately the prisoners were only caught by their own greed when an email alerted information technology staff that the daily Internet threshold for a user account had been exceeded, an account that belonged to a contractor who was not working that day. The prisoner accessing the network at the time tried to access certain file-sharing sites that had been blocked by the prison’s proxy server, then subsequently spent three hours trying to find sites to go around the proxy.

The computers in the roof were subsequently discovered after IT staff members investigated the source of the traffic.

“We will thoroughly review the reports and take any additional steps necessary to prevent these types of things from happening again,” the ODRC said in a groveling statement. “It is of critical importance that we provide necessary safeguards in regards to the use of technology while still providing opportunities for offenders to participate in meaningful and rehabilitative programming.”

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