SysAdmin Controls SanFran Computer Network

A disgruntled network administrator has been jailed after locking down a key computer network for the city of San Francisco by creating a password that gave him exclusive access to the system, according to city officials. San Francisco police arrested Terry Childs Sunday after he refused to provide them with working access codes for the city’s new multi-million dollar FiberWAN network, which stores e-mails, city payroll files, confidential law enforcement documents and jail inmates’ booking records.

Childs is a network administrator in the city’s Department of Technology. City officials reported late Monday that the system remained online and said they “made some headway” in overcoming the access controls implemented by Childs, who reportedly had been disciplined in recent months.

Here’s an excerpt from the San Francisco Chronicle’s coverage:

Authorities say Childs began tampering with the computer system June 20. The damage is still being assessed, but authorities say undoing his denial of access to other system administrators could cost millions of dollars. Officials also said they feared that although Childs is in jail, he may have enabled a third party to access the system by telephone or other electronic device and order the destruction of hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents. Authorities have searched Childs’ home and car for a device that could be used in such an attack, but so far no such evidence has been found.

The Chron reports that Childs also was monitoring what other administrators were saying and doing related to his personnel case, law enforcement officials said. The case is also being discussed on Slashdot.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.