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San Francisco network admin may cost city over $1 million


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September 10, 2008

According to the City's Department of Technology, an over zealous and very disgruntled network administrator accused of locking San Francisco out of its own IT network will probably cost the city more than $1 million in system upgrades, consultant fees, new software and various repairs to undo the damage he has done.

A 43-year-old senior network administrator from the Bay Area city of Pittsburg, Terry Childs has been formally accused of creating a super password for San Francisco's new FiberWan network and effectively locking his superiors out of their own system.

Childs is a full-fledged Cisco-certified network admin with many years of experience managing complex and vast networks similar to the one installed for the city of San Francisco.

To make matters worse, the network provides access to some confidential databases including payroll files, critical jail booking records and sensitive law enforcement documents.

Initially, Childs categorically refused to divulge the password, even after being arrested with his bail set at a staggering $5 million. He was then eventually convinced to cough up the correct code, when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom visited Childs in his jail cell.

He currently faces four felony charges of computer tampering, plus various other similar charges.

The city's Department of Technology told the San Francisco Chronicle that it plans to set aside $1 million to pay for outside consultant fees and various system upgrades to its network.

To this date, it has already spent over $182,600 for the work, and about $15,000 in worker's overtime pay as a result of Childs' lockout. The department also plans to ask the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in November for additional funds to cover other related expenses.

Prosecutors allege that before the incident, Childs was the target of disciplinary action over his allegedly poor overall performance. They claim he rigged the network as an "insurance policy" against getting fired from his employer. The city of San Francisco denies all his claims.

Childs's lawyer portrays the system admin as a very skilled network engineer who barred network access in order to protect the system from incompetent managers.

She also claims that his co-workers and supervisors have damaged the network in the past, hindered his ability to maintain it, and otherwise showed no interest in maintaining the network themselves, hence his actions in further securing the network.

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Source: The San Francisco Chronicle.


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