Its time Private Sector should contribute to security of our prisons


In a shameful security lapse by the Jail authorities, 8 dreaded convicted SIMI terrorists have reportedly escaped from a Bhopal prison considered one of the secure jails, after overpowering and killing just one guard. The guard was strangulated in a hand combat and not through any sophisticated weapons, indicating the primitive security that the jail had.

See the report here

There is no doubt that the escape was made possible by corruption in the system and hopefully the corrupt persons will be brought to book.

In the meantime, it is important for the serious professionals in the Law Enforcement System to completely revamp the security systems in our jails and make it impossible for such escapes to happen.

There was a time when private sector used to hire retired Policemen for their security thinking that they are good in preventing thefts and burglaries in the industrial premises. Later when the industry realized that the most precious asset they have is in the form of “Information” and not in the form of physical assets, they started hiring “Electronic Security Experts” to manage security and today they have risen to the ranks of “CISO”s in the industry and occupy a coveted post.

Even in the Information Security scenario, physical security is an important component and therefore there are either specialized physical security manpower assisting the CISO or the CISOs themselves are experts in physical security also. Since most of the Physical security gadgets today are in fact “Electronic Devices”, there is a lot of “information Security Expertise” required even to manage the “Physical Security”.

Now that private sector has developed an expertise in preventing unauthorized persons gaining entry into a secure physical premises, it is time to use this expertise in reverse to prevent unauthorized exit of people from the so called “Jails” .

We therefore look forward to the LEA immediately reinforcing the security of Jails by appointing an expert corporate CISO and install the various physical security gadgets that can prevent unauthorized escape of inmates of a jail.

First and the most important security measure that needs to be taken for high security prisoners such as terrorists is to monitor them on a 24×7 basis through a GPS collar or an implant device which cannot be easily removed without raising an alarm at multiple centers with multiple security levels. These devices should be monitored at all times even when the prisoners are sleeping and intelligence should be built in to identify any unusual patterns of movements of the prisoners.

Raising the perimeter wall, implanting electronic surveillance systems like “Mines on the Walls” to monitor any attempted scaling of the walls as well as CCTV cameras are normal security measures which should anyway be in place.

The security should be built with the “Defense in Depth” concept with multiple layers separated by mantraps, turnstiles and other similar devices which make it impossible for anybody to force their way out without raising alarm.

I wish the Jail authorities go through the available systems for prison security  (Check hereworldwide and incorporate them in our country too. (Also check this Report)

There is no doubt that the best secured prisons will also be broken some day. But it requires that much more expertise to break the Techno-Physical security systems and such attempts have to come from outside hackers which the SOC of the prison can try to tackle.

Probably this should also create lot more job opportunities for IS persons who want to serve the nation. Man of them may take up such assignments out of their love for the nation if  Mr Modi makes a call.

In the meantime, I urge some corporate security teams to offer their services to secure the local prisons on a voluntary basis under Corproate Social Responsibilities….. Let’s see if there is a political will.


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About Vijayashankar Na

Naavi is a veteran Cyber Law specialist in India and is presently working from Bangalore as an Information Assurance Consultant. Pioneered concepts such as ITA 2008 compliance, Naavi is also the founder of Cyber Law College, a virtual Cyber Law Education institution. He now has been focusing on the projects such as Secure Digital India and Cyber Insurance
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