Federal authorities have been doing research and investigations due to the raising concern that the U.S. prisons are vulnerable to computers hackers, who could remotely open cell doors to aid jailbreaks.
They have already found problems with in their computer systems where someone could open every cell door, and the system would tell the control room they are all closed. The security systems in most American prisons are run by specialized computer equipment called industrial control systems. These ICS are also used to control power plants, water treatment facilities and other critical national infrastructure. The problem though being that these ICS systems have been increasingly targeted by hackers in the past couple of years because of the amount of damage that can occur when doing so.
Another vulnerability they have found is that a hacker could destroy the doors by overloading the electrical system that controls them, locking them permanently open and shut down secure communications through the prison intercom system and crash the facility closed circuit tv system as well.
The problem though with hacking a ICS system though is that they are not supposed to be connected to the internet but often there are connections to other networks or devices that are connect to the internet, making it possible for hackers to use those to get in.
Even though they are not supposed to be connected to the internet hackers still could get into the building or another computer on that network and use a usb thumb drive to release a malicious code that would do the same thing.
The federal officials say that they are doing everything they can right now to make sure the systems are up to date on all security measures they can have and are working on fixing the problems with the overloaded circuits that could occur with a hack.