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Idaho inmates hack prison-issued tablets to steal $225K worth of credits

August 1, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Idaho inmates hack prison-issued tablets to steal $225K worth of credits

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Inmates at an Idaho prison facility hacked into their jail-issued tablets to wire almost $225,000 into accounts they use to purchase music and video games.

The 364 inmates across five different prisons hacked into the software on their JPay tablets to boost their balances, an investigation carried out by the Idaho Department of Corrections revealed earlier this month.

The touch-screen tablets permit inmates to email their loved ones, read the news and buy music and computer games. The tablets are available to inmates through a contract with JPay and CenturyLink.

The prisoners increased the balance of their accounts by “intentionally exploiting a software vulnerability,” Mark Molzen, a spokesperson for CenturyLink, said. He couldn’t provide further information because of proprietary information but said the issue has been settled.

Fifty inmates credited their accounts in amounts over $1,000 and the most significant single amount was just under $10,000, according to DOC spokesman Jeff Ray.

The credits did not involve taxpayer cash, he added.

“This was intentional, not accidental. It required a knowledge of the JPay system and multiple actions by every inmate who exploited the system’s vulnerability to credit their account,” Ray announced in a prepared statement.

Over $65,000 in credits has been recovered and JPay has prevented inmates from downloading music and games until the company is repaid for its losses, according to the New York Post.

The inmates are still able to send emails.

The rogue jailbirds that were involved may be disciplined – indicating that they could lose privileges and may be recategorized to a higher security risk level.

The hack involved prisoners at Idaho Correctional Institution, Idaho Correctional Center, Idaho Correctional Institution-Orofino, South Idaho Correctional Institution and the Correctional Alternative Placement Plan facility, which is managed by private prison company MTC Inc.

JPay said it’s working to improve its software to bypass problems in the future.

“JPay is proud to provide services that allow incarcerated individuals to communicate, access educational programming, and enjoy positive entertainment options that help prevent behavioral issues,” JPay spokesperson Jade Trombetta said in a statement. “While the majority of individuals use our secure technology appropriately, we are working to improve our products to prevent any attempts at misuse.”

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