IT admin who locked up San Francisco's network appears in court

Former network administrator Terry Childs has locked up a multimillion dollar computer system for San Francisco that handles sensitive data and is refusing to give police the password.

Terry Childs

Terry Childs pleaded not guilty to charges of computer tampering in San Francisco Superior Court Thursday. Childs, a network administrator with the city's Department of Telecommunication Information Services is charged with resetting the administrative passwords to the city's WAN and refusing to give up the codes.

Terry Childs

The 43-year-old employee, was arrested Sunday. He gave some passwords to police, which did not work, and refused to reveal the real code. The new FiberWAN handles city payroll files, jail bookings, law enforcement documents and official e-mail for San Francisco. The network is functioning but administrators have little or no access.

Photo credit: Robert McMillan

Terry Childs

Childs, who remains in custody, is accused of improperly tampering with computer systems and causing a denial of service, said Kamala Harris, San Francisco's district attorney, on Monday afternoon.

Photo credit: Robert McMillan

Terry Childs

"The bail has been set at $5 million, and the exposure in this case if he were convicted on all counts would be seven years in prison," District Attorney Harris said.

Photo credit: Robert McMillan

Terry Childs

District Attorney Harris also said it's unknown why Childs tampered with the system. The San Francisco Chronicle, however, reported that Childs was disciplined recently for poor performance. Childs worked in the Department of Technology for San Francisco, making close to $150,000 a year, the paper reported.

Photo credit: Robert McMillan

Terry Childs

City officials told the Chronicle that Childs may have caused millions in damage while also rigging the network so that other third parties could monitor traffic, posing a huge data security risk. He is also alleged to have installed a tracing system to monitor communications related to his personnel case.

Photo credit: Robert McMillan

Dana Hom, San Francisco Superior Court

Dana Hom, a former colleague of San Francisco network administrator Terry Childs speaking with reporters Thursday at San Francisco Superior Court.

Dana Hom, San Francisco Superior Court

Terry Childs is facing seven years in jail for tampering with city comptuers, but Hom called these charges a "travesty."

Judge Paul Alvarado, San Franciso Superior Court

Judge Paul Alvarado in court Thursday. Alvarado is presiding over the Terry Childs network tampering case in San Franciso Superior Court.

San Francisco Department of Telecommunication Information Services

The newly renovated San Francisco Department of Telecommunication Information Services (DTIS).

Ron Vinson, San Francisco DTIS

Ron Vinson is the chief administrative officer with the San Francisco's Department of Telecommunication Information Services (DTIS).

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