Inmates Hack Prison’s Computer Network with DIY Computers



Five prisoners in the United States managed to build two personal computers from parts hidden behind a plywood board in the ceiling of a closet of their detention center. The prisoners connected the PC’s to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s (ODRC) network and abused their new found powers.

The actions by the prisoners caused the State of Ohio’s Office of the Inspector General to publish a 50-page report [PDF] about their investigations into the incident this week.

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Ohio Inspector General forensic analysis determined the prisoners issued passes for inmates to gain access to multiple areas within the institution, and used the Departmental Offender Tracking System to steal the personal information of an inmate and apply for five credit cards.

Forensics also found “a large hacker’s toolkit with numerous malicious tools for possible attacks. These malicious tools included password-cracking tools, virtual private network (VPN) tools, network enumeration tools, hand-crafted software, numerous proxy tools, and other software used for various types of malicious activity.”

The prisoners had “self-signed certificates, Pidgin chat accounts, Tor sites, Tor geo exit nodes, ether soft, virtual phone, pornography, videos, VideoLan, and other various software.”

A ODRC technical team reports: “Inmates appeared to have been conducting attacks against the ODRC network using proxy machines that were connected to the inmate and department networks. It appears the Departmental Offender Tracking System portal was attacked and inmate passes were created. Findings of bitcoin wallets, stripe accounts, bank accounts, and credit card accounts point toward possible identity fraud, along with other possible cybercrimes.”

The Ohio Inspector General was tipped off to the actions of the prisoners after the ODRC IT team moved the Marion Correctional Institution from Microsoft proxy servers to Websense.

On July 3, 2015, Websense sent an email alert reporting that a computer on the ODRC network had exceeded daily internet usage threshold. More alerts were forthcoming, warning of “hacking” and 59 regarding “proxy avoidance.”

So, ODRC investigated. The login credentials by the computer were found to be illicit and a search for the computer itself ensued. The computer was found when ODRC employees identified the network switch the PC’s were connected into.

“I was following up on information received from OSC IT department,” an incident report stated. “I had been told there was a PC on our network that was being used to try and hack through the proxy servers. They narrowed the search area down to the switch in P3 and the PC was connected to port 16. I was able to follow the cable from the switch to a closet in the small training room. When I removed the ceiling tiles I found 2 PCs hidden in the ceiling on 2 pieces of plywood.”

The prisoners had gathered the computer parts from Marion’s Correction Institution’s RET3 program, which helps to rehabilitate prisoners by putting them to work breaking PCs into component parts so they can be recycled.

Five inmates were involved, and have since been separated in other correctional facilities, as detailed by the Inspector General report.

ODRC appreciates “the time the Inspector General’s office has taken to conduct these investigations and we have already taken steps to address some areas of concern. We will thoroughly review the reports and take any additional steps necessary to prevent these types of things from happening again.”

It added: “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.”


Images: Shutterstock

Many More Bitcoiners Are Going To Jail & The Community Won’t Care

Bitcoin has had a scandalous past already, with many high profile court cases. When you go to conferences, the focus is on how Bitcoin is world changing and the opportunity of a lifetime. In most discussion circles, and at most lectures, nobody will dare mention those people who have been arrested and charged with whatever crimes.

Some come to mind, such as LocalBitcoins trader Pascal Reid, Coin.mx trader Anthony Murgio and Trendon Shavers – the much-hated Pirateat40 – who was considered a villain in the Bitcoin community, but one of his lawyers have recently come out and told of a different Trendon.

So, here the Bitcoiners are, ignoring their own fates. Netki COO Dawn Carey Newton spoke at the Inside Bitcoins conference in San Diego in December where she mentioned federal agents told a digital currency conference that there were currently many pending investigations. Dawn guessed dozens were pending.

That means many more Bitcoiners are going to have charges brought up against them. That could be you. Might already be you. And just like what happened with other Bitcoiners before you, nobody will stand up to defend that you were merely helping the Bitcoin ecosystem to grow and never thought you were doing anything wrong. And the prosecutor won’t care either.

As lawyer Jason Seibert said at Inside Bitcoins, Bitcoin is “legal sexy.” What he means by that phrase is that hard-working law enforcement agents and prosecutors might wish to make a name for themselves in the field of crypto-currency legislation and policy.

Because of regulatory vagueness, a number of Bitcoin business models are at stake. Even if you’re once removed from any transacting of money, you could get caught up in a court case of a client as a witness. Even this will put you under great scrutiny.

If you’re one of those Bitcoin entrepreneurs who loves the Bitcoin community, and is doing whatever you can do to add new applications to the cryptocurrency space, then you might be at risk for a state or federal investigation. And when your time comes, you’ll just be another trending name on the top of r/Bitcoin. And, at the Bitcoin conferences, venture capitalists will just talk how innovative they’re being with their lawyers and booty of dollars.