Ransomware Attack Forced Prisoners in New Mexico Jail to Lockdown

On January 5th, 2022, a ransomware attack disabled vital services across Bernalillo County, New Mexico. Most notably, the cyberattack put the prisoners in a New Mexico jail in a lockdown following the network shutdown of the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC).


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Major Impacts of the Ransomware Cyberattack

Specifically, the ransomware cyberattack impacted the internet connection at the jail, affecting its security cameras and data systems. The automatic doors of the Metropolitan Detention Center also went offline. Consequently, the turmoil led to the confinement of prisoners to their cells. Meanwhile, IT technicians stepped up their efforts to restore the systems as early as possible.

The restoration of automatic door functions did not materialize until the afternoon of January 5th. Simultaneously, there was no access to facilities cameras until the evening of January 5th. The unavailability of camera coverage also temporarily pushed MDC to suspend all lawyers and family members’ visits to maintain prisoners, visitors, and staff safety.

The cyberattack also made crucially important jail databases inaccessible to retrieve information, such as the incident tracking system (ITS) that stores all violent incidents, including force, inmate fights, and sexual assaults. It also affected the offender management system (OMS), which houses prisoners’ account details.

Potential Violation of the Lawsuit Terms

The ransomware cyberattack has embroiled Bernalillo County in a legal crisis. For context, a two-decade-old lawsuit settlement agreement obliges county prisons to ensure certain privileges to prisoners. According to the agreement, county jails have to upgrade facility conditions and address overcrowding complaints. It also includes allowing prisoners to spend some time outside of cells.

Apart from that, it is also to ensure guaranteed time to access communication devices. However, the county has failed to meet such conditions during the lockdown following the loss of internet connection. For overcoming the seeming violation of the settlement, Bernalillo County filed an emergency notice to the federal court. It urged the court to consider its exceptional circumstances.

The County-Scale Impact of the Ransomware Cyberattack

The New Mexico jail part of the large-scale ransomware cyberattack has plunged the entire Bernalillo County into chaos, leading to the closure of several country buildings to the public. The ransomware attack also halted processing marriage licenses and local property deals.

The January 5th ransomware cyberattack also left county employees unable to access government databases. Temporarily, the cyberattack also caused the closure of all public offices. County employees were thus forced to work remotely and assist the public as much as possible.


Going into 2022, it’s hard to imagine that we’ll have fewer ransomware attacks. Government institutions and private businesses have come at an unprecedented risk of ransomware cyberattacks over the last few years. Under these circumstances, it is vital to comprehend the effectiveness of your security controls to prevent cyberattacks. Thankfully, our talented and experienced team can help you identify the weaknesses in your infrastructure so that cybercriminals cannot exploit them.



Ransomware cyberattack forces prisoners in New Mexico jail to lockdown
The confinement of prisoners in New Mexico Jail as a result of a ransomware attack
The New Mexico jail went offline after a ransomware attack
A cyberattack incapacitates automatic doors and cameras of the New Mexico Jail