Security holes in the computer systems of federal prisons in the United States can effectively allow hackers to trigger a jailbreak by remote control.
A group of researchers disclosed the vulnerability at the Hacker Halted information security conference in Miami last Oct. 26, the Washington Times reported.
The report said the researchers showed how the flaws allowed outsiders to potentially remotely take over systems to open and overload cell door mechanisms and shut down internal communications systems.
According to the report, the US Federal Bureau of Prisons said it is aware of the research and taking it seriously.
The security systems in most American prisons are run by special computer equipment called industrial control systems (ICS), which control power plants, water treatment facilities and other critical national infrastructure, have increasingly been targeted by hackers because an attack on one such system successfully sabotaged Iran’s nuclear program in 2009, the Washington Times report said.
The report also said the researchers spent less than $2,500 to develop the attacks that could take control of prisons' ICSs.