Showing the kind of get-up-and-go that may have, um, helped them in their previous careers, a group of inmates at the Marion Correctional Institution in Columbus, Ohio, constructed two working computers out of spare parts and hid them in a ceiling in their facility. They were discovered in the summer of 2015, when IT at the facility detected an unexplained upswing in internet usage, which led to an employee login that was suspiciously in use when that employee was off work. Now, the state is investigating how in god’s green earth this could possibly have happened.
It turns out the inmates were smuggling parts from a computer-building program the prison was running, and security was loose enough not to catch them. The inmates also smuggled enough cables to connect their resulting Franken-puters to the state network. Through this setup, they were able to steal the identity of another inmate and commit tax fraud, and spoof a security clearance to access secure areas in their own facility.
“‘It surprised me that the inmates had the ability to not only connect these computers to the state’s network but had the ability to build these computers,’ Ohio Inspector General Randall J. Meyer said. ‘They were able to travel through the institution more than 1,100 feet without being checked by security through several check points, and not a single corrections staff member stopped them from transporting these computers into the administrative portion of the building. It’s almost if it’s an episode of Hogan’s Heroes.’”
Thankfully, investigators have determined this to be a failure of security protocols, and not a sign that these sorts of skill building workshops need to be spiked. The rehabilitative value of these workshops will be preserved. Meanwhile, the investigators have issued an interesting recommendation: that the U.S. corrections department run checks on their networks for strangeness, rather than relying on fallible humans to twig to what’s wrong!