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Darker Side of Mobile Technology

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Volume: 71 Issue: 4 Dated: August 2009 Pages: 52-54
Jim Mahan; Ozzie Diaz
Date Published
August 2009
3 pages
This article identifies some of the security threats posed by mobile and wireless technologies in the hands of inmates and proposes ways in which corrections agencies can counter these threats.
In the hands of inmates, many current and future technologies in commercially available consumer electronics will have the potential to compromise the security of both the physical and information technology (IT) network infrastructure of a correctional facility. The consumer electronics industry is spending billions of dollars to make equipment smaller, smarter, more sophisticated, and loaded with high-tech features. There is innovation and widespread adoption of cellular technologies, some of which fit into a wrist-watch. Smart phones that fit into a pocket have capabilities that exceed personal computers. The inmate "underground" network constantly probes for holes in the correctional security system, and when a security vulnerability is found, news travels fast throughout the country to other correctional institutions and inmate populations. As inmates become more equipped with contraband electronics, their ability to electronically vandalize or disable critical correctional infrastructures will grow exponentially. Because of the electronics, software, and communication protocols found in modern physical security equipment, correctional management must insist that new equipment has the necessary digital/IP security measures that will ensure protection against internal and external threats to it. In addition, correctional staff who manage these systems must be trained in inmate management and digital/IP security. Correctional IT staff must recognize that their jobs include the electronic security of correctional facilities against threats from within and outside the facility.