Ransomware attack on New Mexico jail put prisoners in lockdown

Ransomware attack on New Mexico jail put prisoners in lockdown

The Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Bernalillo County, New Mexico went offline due to a ransomware attack, and prisoners were confined to their cells.

On January 5th, 2022, the IT infrastructure of the Metropolitan Detection Center in Bernalillo Country, New Mexico was hit by a crippling ransomware attack that forced its network to go offline.

Attack’s Aftermath

Reportedly, the ransomware attack triggered an emergency as the facility’s automatic doors, and security cameras mechanisms went offline. Resultantly, inmates were confined to their cells as technicians tried to bring the systems back online.

New Mexico jail goes offline after a ransomware attack- Prisoners in lockdown
Tweet from the official Twitter handle of Bernalillo County

As per a report from Source New Mexico, the MDC’s visitor access was also suspended, and the jail went into complete lockdown. Its internet service also went offline so prison staff couldn’t access inmate records, and prisoners had to be controlled manually.

Incident Tracking Database Also Corrupted

The facility’s emergency notice to the court written by County attorney Taylor Rahn explained that the attack might also corrupt the incident tracking database. This database contains reports of force, fighting, and sexual assault allegations on inmates. The staff used keys to operate facility doors manually.

“The Incident Tracking System (ITS), the database in which MDC creates and houses all incident reports, including inmate fights, use of force, allegations of violations of the Prison Rape Elimination Act, is not currently available as it is suspected to be corrupted by the attack. Further, the Offender Management System (OMS) which MDC uses to store and access information about inmates including inmate account data is likewise unavailable at the present,” MDC’s court filing read.

Extensive Damage Caused

According to court documents, the attack compromised the detention center’s court-operated databases and internet service. Therefore, officials had limited access to email, and County wireless internet was rendered inaccessible, which was particularly concerning since the MDC’s structure and location make it challenging to access cellular service.

“One of the most concerning impacts of the cyberattack is that MDC is unable to access facility cameras. As of the evening of 5 Jan, there was no access to cameras within the facility,” Rahn noted.

SEE: US private prison, detention centers operator hit by ransomware attack

MDC spokesperson revealed that the impacted systems are not yet restored, and the repairing process is still underway. Therefore, the facility had to impose a temporary lockdown to deal with the situation, and all court-related video conferences were postponed.

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