Wednesday, January 26, 2022

System failures Hacker attack paralyzes US prison

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A hacker attack on a prison in New Mexico paralyzed the security systems there. The consequences were felt primarily by the occupants.

A hacker attack has paralyzed a prison in the USA – and the inmates locked up even more than they already were. According to court documents (PDF), the security cameras and the automatic door system of the detention center in the county of Bernalillo in the US state of New Mexico were deactivated last week. The prison staff therefore had to unlock each cell manually if the inmates wanted to go outside to exercise or relax.

Last Thursday’s court order said the lack of camera surveillance posed a “significant security risk for staff and inmates when they were outside the cells.” This means that all prisoners are only allowed to stay in their cells and are no longer allowed to move freely around the prison at certain times. However, they should still be allowed to leave their cells for medical care.

The cyber attack also paralyzed other public facilities in the US district. It said in a statement that the administration was still unable to process marriage certificates, voter registrations and real estate transactions due to “cyber problems”. The cause of the problem was a so-called ransomware attack – hackers encrypt computer hard drives and demand a ransom, otherwise they delete all data.

There was no information about who was behind the cyber attack or what claims were made. The prison did not respond to a request from the AFP news agency.

Ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly common around the world. Last year, the United States offered a $10 million reward for those who found the leaders of the Darkside gang.

This Russia-based organization is blamed by Washington for an attack that shut down one of the country’s largest oil pipelines. Blackmail gangs are said to have stolen more than half a billion dollars through cyber attacks in the first six months of 2021 alone.

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