Inmates hacked prison tablets to steal $225,000 for apps and music

Company JPay offers special, small tablets designed specifically for corrections facilities. These tablets are intended to provide inmates with limited access to the outside world, including email and mobile games, but instead they were used to transfer large sums of money into various JPay accounts. The hackers were able to do this by exploiting a vulnerability with the tablets.

JPay offers multiple tablet models for corrections facilities, including a tiny 4.3-inch model and a larger 7-inch option. These devices feature music players, limited internal storage, an email app, headphone jack, and basic apps like a calculator, FM radio, and timer. The company's website lists the JP5 tablet model, for example, as a way for inmates to view videos and photos, read news, access educational content, play games they purchase with their own money, and listen to audio.

According to The Spokesman-Review, officials in Idaho discovered that 364 inmates took advantage of a vulnerability that allowed them to transfer cash into their JPay accounts. The sum total of the amount stolen is almost a quarter-million dollars, the report claims, none of it taxpayer money.

Officials say that among these inmates, 50 added more than $1,000 to their JPay account, and one inmate took a bigger risk, adding more than $10,000. An investigation into the matter found the actions were intentional, requiring the inmate to take multiple steps within the JPay system to pull off the theft.

As of this week, JPay had recovered about $65,000 of the stolen funds. Inmates who took money have had their accounts suspended and must repay the company for the amount of stolen money used to purchase content. Corrections officials are also implementing punishments against the alleged hackers, but the tablets haven't been taken away. Inmates can still access email.

SOURCE: The Spokesman-Review