Firstly smuggle your WiFi/VoIP capable Nokia phone or Netgear Skype phone into a prison (very easy). Next your mate parks outside with a WiFi AP hooked up to a cellphone (again very easy) and before you know it you're connected to the real world again. Simple isn't it. I wonder why not a single person at corrections was aware of such an exploit? They're going to waste $5 million of taxpayers money on a system that will have exploits from day one.
It reminds me of their stupid system about 10 years ago were prisoners were only able to dial fixed nominated numbers from the prison payphones. They would nominate friend X on number 1234567 and were free to call them. Corrections spent a lot of money implimenting this rock solid system to discover that some smart people realised if you rang your nominated mate he could put his phone on divert to another number and talk to anybody they wanted.
Bruce over at Aarkvark has also posted about the issue of cellphones in prison and has a few comments in regards to it.
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Comment by chiefie, on 23-Aug-2007 11:17
Perhaps this should be posted to Juha and make a mainstream blog via Fairfax reach to bring into the press world? Might stir a bit of thinking at the Dept of Corrections at least... This does make you wonder, is there any IT-savvy/smart person working at Dept of Corrections at all?
Comment by Filterer, on 23-Aug-2007 12:10
"It will stop some people but anybody who has a brain (ie many prisoners) will realise an exploit to get around the system is dead easy."
No the smart ones don't get caught! They are the ones that set it up for the others!
Comment by TinyTim, on 23-Aug-2007 14:05
But Steve, just because it's not impossible to get around doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. Mobile phones are very easy to get hold of and use and that's why the problem is rife. Whereas any alternative is going to be that much more difficult to set up, is going to need outside support (e.g. WiFi access point) and isn't going to be as reliable (2.4GHz through prison walls isn't going to work nearly as well as 800MHz). Yes alternatives may develop but they certainly won't be accessable to every single prisoner like mobile phones are. I'd hazard a guess and say that a bigger problem would be the risk of prisoners finding a corner of the prison where mobile phones do actually work.
Comment by barf, on 23-Aug-2007 18:06
they have metal workshops in some prisons
it would only take one prisoner to build a mini-Yagi-Uda and the rest would catch on.
Comment by dan, on 28-Aug-2007 08:21
Steve, They may not be providing a complete solution, but I certainly don't think they've "got it all wrong". Now we all know that one can't produce an entirely secure/foolproof system: there are always loopholes, workarounds, and the odd exceptionally clever person (eg: Teen cracks Aussie government's $93m porn filter). How far should they go to prevent unauthorized inmate communications? At what point do they start cutting off fingers to stop inmates using keypads? I think jamming cellphone communication is a reasonable step.