Prison video visitation system exposed calls between inmates and lawyers
Video visit systems in prisons are sometimes the only way for family members and lawyers to speak to inmates, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the security of these systems has recently been severely compromised. Researcher Bob Diachenko told TechCrunch that video visits provider HomeWAV had made a database dashboard publicly available without a password since April, uncovering "thousands" of calls between inmates and their lawyers. Anyone could read call logs and transcripts.
HomeWAV shut down the dashboard shortly after TC reported the problem. Company boss John Best confirmed the incident, saying that a third party accidentally lifted the password restriction that kept the server private. He also promised to notify inmates, their families, and lawyers.
This is a particularly serious injury. While many U.S. prisons record calls, due to attorney and client privilege, they should not monitor calls to attorneys. This suggests that the calls were recorded despite this rule. And if the pandemic prevents face-to-face visits, there's a good chance more of those calls have been intercepted than usual.
This isn't the only breach in recent months. Diachenko pointed to a bug in TelMate that exposed millions of messages from prisoners. However, this only underscores the problem: the occupants' safety and privacy issues often seem to go unnoticed.
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