Cyber attackers hacked into the computer system that controls servers and internet access at the prison in Bernalillo County, New Mexico last week.
For a short time, the jail’s automatic door system was knocked out, meaning staff at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) had to manually unlock each cell when detainees needed to get out for exercise or recreation.
Ransomware attacks, where a hacker takes data from the victim or takes control of a computer system until a ransom is paid, are becoming increasingly common as more official and commercial business is conducted online.
The United States last year offered a $10 million reward for help finding the leaders of the “Darkside” gang, a Russia-based outfit Washington blames for an assault that shut down one of the country’s largest oil pipelines.
More than half a billion dollars in ransomware-related payments were reported to US authorities in the first half of 2021 alone, though the true cost is thought to be considerably higher.