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Inmate hacker locks down jail computers

Chaos reigns after cybercrook given programming project

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A UK prison computer system was left in lockdown after jail bosses gave a convicted cybercriminal the task of reprogramming it, the Sunday Mirror reports.

Douglas Havard, 27, an inmate at Ranby Prison, Nottinghamshire, was asked to take over a project to create an internal TV station using the jail's computer network. Havard is half-way through a six year term over his involvement in a £6.5m hacking and phishing scam (more details here), something the prison governors must have reckoned gave him the requisite computer programming skills.

Havard, originally from the US, was jailed in 2005 after he was convicted for running the UK end of an international phishing scam estimated to have netted up to £6.5m. The American and partner in crime Lee Elwood, 25, were jailed after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to launder money.

Data dumps of compromised credit card and bank account details were sent over from Russia to Havard, who used this information to fraudulently purchase goods online. These goods were then sold in online auctions by UK-based affiliates with the proceeds, less Havard's cut, sent back to Russia. The duo were involved in credit card counterfeiting and active on underground websites such as carderplanet and shadowcrew, according to investigators.

Havard and Elwood were arrested following a National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) investigation into eastern European phishing fraudsters.

After he was reportedly left unsupervised during the prison programming project, Havard spent his time altering system passwords so that everyone else was locked out. Prison bosses had to hire external consultants to sort out the resulting mess. Meanwhile Havard was put into segregation as punishment.

Another inmate at Ranby Prison recently managed to get a key cut that was capable of opening every door at the jail.

A Prison Service spokesman told the Sunday Mirror that the computer breach at Ranby was under investigation. He denied that lags were given unsupervised access and added: "The prisoner was not able to access records of any other prisoners." ®

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