Inmates in a medium-security Ohio prison managed to build an entire complex computer network, which they used primarily to watch porn and hack into the prison’s computer to spy on the facility.
Once authorities caught on and were able to seize the computers and access the hard drives, they found that the inmates mostly used the technology to search records of fellow inmates, acquire official passes to access certain restricted areas in the prison, research tax fraud, and apply for credit cards.
They were able to get the computers installed because not all of the inmates are monitored constantly.
“Investigators determined prisoners took advantage of the freedoms, programs, and lax security standards at MCI,” the report reads.
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The official report from Randall J. Meyer, the inspector general of Ohio, reads:
For example, Spriggs and Johnston took two computers that should have been disassembled, placed hard drives into the computers, installed a network card, transported the computers across the institution for approximately 1,100 feet, through the security check point without being searched or challenged by staff, accessed an elevator to the third floor, and placed the two computers in the ceiling of the P3 training room. Additionally, Spriggs and Johnston not only placed the two computers in the ceiling, they also ran wire, cable, and power cords to connect the devices undetected onto the ODRC [Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction] network.
Johnston even told investigators that he would regularly go back to the room to make any necessary modifications to the concealed computers.
The tech-savvy criminals took the computer parts from an internal computer skills and electronics recycling program. They were even able to download anti-virus software, e-mail spamming tools, and several other advanced functions for the computer to help hide the computer’s identity, and engage in criminal acts.
Prison staff discovered the two computers hidden in the plywood boards of the ceiling in August of 2015 after they noticed that internet usage surpassed an allowed threshold. It took the employees and investigators three weeks to find the computers. They estimate that the inmates operated the computers and all of its capabilities for roughly four months.