Unhappy Worker Locks Down San Francisco’s Wireless Network

Posted: July 17, 2008 in Technology
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Hell hath no fury like an IT guy scorned. That’s the lesson San Francisco officials learned after technician Terry Childs, 43, created a master password to lock everyone else out of the city’s FiberWAN network. The system holds e-mails, prison records, and payroll files, and authorities fear he may have shared his code with a third party, putting the information at risk.

Apparently, Childs snapped after he was asked to leave his network administrator job for poor performance and insubordination. He’s been employed by the city for five years, despite past convictions for robbery and burglary dating back to the 80’s. To add to the city’s humiliation, Childs is still being paid his $127,000 yearly salary.

At the time of his arrest, Childs gave up a fake password to police and has remained silent on the magic word. He’s facing up to seven years in jail for four counts of computer tampering, and is due back in court tomorrow. Engineers from Silicon Valley are on the case now, so apparently he didn’t use “password” as the access code.

San Francisco officials are completely locked out of the city’s new multi-million dollar computer network because a disgruntled technician won’t hand over the password, the San Francisco Chronicle reports this morning.

Terry Childs, 43, created a password giving him exclusive access to the network, which contains official emails, jail records, and city payroll files. He refuses to hand it over even though he’s now cooling his heels in jail with a $5 million bail.

Childs has worked for the city for about five years and makes just over $126,000. Citing anonymous sources, the Chronicle says Childs has been recently disciplined for poor performance, and that one supervisor tried to fire him.

Things could get uglier. “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,” the Chronicle says.

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