Update: IT admin locks up San Francisco's
July 15, 2008 (IDG News Service) SAN FRANCISCO — A network administrator has allegedly locked up a
multimillion-dollar computer system for the city of San Francisco that handles sensitive data, and he is
refusing to give police the password.
Terry Childs, 43, was arrested Sunday and was charged with four counts of tampering with a computer
network. According to the office of San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, Childs made changes to
the city's Fibre WAN (wide area network), allegedly rendering it inaccessible to administrators. He also "set
up devices to gain unauthorized access to the system," the DA's office said in a statement.
The fiber WAN is used to connect computers in buildings throughout the city and carries about 60% of the
networking traffic for the city government. On Tuesday it was functioning normally, but the city no longer
has administrative access to the switches and routers on the network, according to Ron Vinson, chief
administrative officer with the city's Department of Telecommunication Information Services. "It was a little
unnerving to discover that this person had created this fiefdom of access to our network," he said.
"We continue to monitor the system to make sure that we do maintain the integrity of the network," he added.
"The issue at hand is the access codes that we are trying to get our hands around."
Childs was arrested on Sunday at his home in Pittsburg, Calif., the DA's office said.
In the days leading up to his arrest, his behavior had become erratic and he had become hostile toward his
colleagues, according to a source familiar with the situation. After his arrest, he first gave some bogus
passwords to police and then refused to reveal the real passwords, the source said.
Childs is a network administrator with the city's telecommunication services office, which runs the city's
critical IT operations, including the e-mail system, Web site, 311 call center and telecommunication