Inmates pirated movies from computers they build with spare parts

Initial investigations showed the same inmates were found hacking prison’s computer system.

Last year HackRead reported regarding the preliminary findings of investigations carried out by officials at ODRC (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction) in relation to a security breach of their computers and IT network since July 2015.

At that time, it was revealed that inmate hackers were involved in multiple cyber crimes including hacking, identity theft and applying for a credit card using stolen identities etc. Ultimately in 2017, the culprits were caught by the law enforcement.

The latest revelations on this investigation are here now. According to Cleveland News, the inmates at Marion Correctional Institution, Ohio, managed to assemble dozens of computers using different parts and pirated software and ran a full-fledged movie network from the prison. This was a clear violation of copyright law as well as the prison’s contract with two mainstream film distributing firms.

See: Man hacks prison computers & alters records for pal’s early release

Since the inmates were employed at Ohio Penal Industries’ Prison News Network, therefore, they managed to broadcast illegal copies of movies. They also accessed data-erasing software and this network was run until 2016. Three prison employees including prison warden at that time, Jason Bunting, were named in the report and these employees no longer work for the ODRC.

Inmates pirated movies from computers they build from spare parts
Cracked software and Torrent downloads (Image credit: Ohio.gov

Cleveland-based non-profit organization RET3 had a contract with Marion Correctional under which it was required to disassemble and recycle donated PCs. An ex-inmate who also worked for RET3 smuggled 1TB HDD into the prison via IT workers, who has been identified as Carl Brady. This hard drive was stored in a printer at the Ohio Penal Industries area and contained illegal software copies, photos, and videos.

Folders with phones and videos of interest (Image credit: Ohio.gov

Investigators were informed by the inmates that Brady and other prison employees allowed them to reassemble computers that contained private information of the previous owners of the devices.

Around 28 computers from different brands were located from the Prison News Network space; these machines weren’t appropriately identified with serial numbers. Investigators conclude that a number of state IT rules were violated.

New findings [PDF] were made public on Tuesday by Inspector General Randall Meyer and now the culprits will most probably be facing criminal charges. The Ohio State Highway Patrol has referred the investigation to Marion County prosecutor.

“The Office of the Ohio Inspector General determined that the computers were not acquired in accordance with Ohio Department of Administrative Services policies and lacked standard configuration and security requirements. In addition, the computers were found to contain thousands of pirated movies and songs as well as illegally duplicated software,” explained the report.

State prisons representative JoEllen Smith stated that the agency has implemented various recommendations from the inspector general’s report and will definitely employ steps to prevent such situations in the future.

See: Prisoner Uses Drones and Cell Phones to Escape

“It is important that safeguards are in place regarding inmate access to technology, while still providing opportunities for meaningful and rehabilitative programming,” stated Smith.

Waqas

Waqas Amir is a Milan-based cybersecurity journalist with a passion for covering latest happenings in cyber security and tech world. In addition to being the founder of this website, Waqas is also into gaming, reading and investigative journalism.