Securus Technologies adapts battlefield technology to combat illegal phones

Securus Technologies is one of the largest prison communications and security companies in the United States. Over the last few years, the company has been working feverishly to perfect and bring to prisons across the country its Wireless Containment System, which is a high-tech solution to the scourge of illegal cell phones currently plaguing the U.S. carceral system.


The Wireless Containment System, like so many other high-tech civilian products, has its origin in war. When the United States deployed troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, they quickly discovered that they were ill-prepared for the realities of urban warfare. The insurgent forces fighting the United States and its allies were able to quickly adapt modern amenities to their cause, weaponizing things like the internet and cellular communications.


In response, the United States developed a system that was able to spoof cell towers. They called this device Stingray. The Stingray system was able to trick all cellular devices within its operational range into connecting to the device as if it were a cell tower. Once the caller connected to the Stingray system, the operator could either block the call or put in through to the network normally, allowing the operator to listen in on the conversation.


Securus Technologies has been able to adapt this technology to the battlefield of U.S. prisons. When dangerous criminal gangs get ahold of contraband cellular phones, they put the safety of entire institutions and the public in jeopardy. With Securus’ Stingray-based Wireless Containment System, it is now possible for prison administrators to almost completely shut down illegal cellular communications.


In fact, one of the problems that Securus has faced so far is that the system is actually too effective. The company has been required to prove to the FCC that the system will not interfere with legitimate cellular traffic outside of the prison grounds where it is installed. While this proved to be a significant stumbling block early in the development of the system, today, the problems with unwanted interference in legitimate cellular traffic networks has largely been resolved.


Early trials of the system took place throughout 2016. It was concluded that prisons where the Wireless Containment System were deployed saw a drop of almost 100 percent in the number of illicit calls that were able to successfully connect to networks outside the prison. This marks a stunning victory in a fight that had previously lasted 20 years and was threatening to seriously undermine the effectiveness and security of the entire U.S. penal system.


So successful has the Wireless Containment System been that Securus is estimating that the system will soon be installed in nearly half of the nation’s prisons and jails. It is increasingly looking like the war against illegal cellphones is on the brink of being won by the good guys.


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