The mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom has personally intervened in the case of the city’s FiberWAN network being taken over by a so called rogue administrator.
Network administrator Terry Childs is accused of locking all other staff out of the system, which carries nearly two thirds of the city’s administrative data. He has refused to hand over passwords authorities say but has now done so after a personal visit by Newsom to his jail cell.
The mayor "figured it was worth a shot, because although Childs is not a Boy Scout, he's not Al Capone either," Newsom spokesman Nathan Ballard told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Most of the network is now back under control by administrators although a few problems remain. Childs is currently still in prison after his bail for four counts of tampering with computer networks was set at US$5 million.
Initially it was assumed that Childs was simply an administrator gone rogue but a more complex picture is now emerging that raises serious questions about the viability of the prosecution case.
Childs stands accused of locking out other administrators from the FiberWAN network but it seems that in fact he has always been the sole rights manager and that management knew about and endorsed this.
He built the network from scratch and maintained it personally. Charges that he built in unauthorised systems that allowed him remote access from outside the office also appear overhyped, since most administrators have some kind of access like this so that problems can be fixed remotely out of office hours.
Childs' lawyer, Erin Crane has said that her client was protecting the network from damage by other administrators and that the prosecution is trying to paint her client as the villain of the piece.
"This is an affront to the city of San Francisco and a miscarriage of justice," she said.
She continued that administrators disliked Childs and "when they couldn't get rid of him" decided to portray him as a “rogue employee” to force him from his post.
"Mr. Childs had good reason to be protective of the password," Crane said.
"His co-workers and supervisors had in the past maliciously damaged the system themselves, hindered his ability to maintain it ... and shown complete indifference to maintaining it themselves.”
Crane is now trying to get the exceptionally high bail demands reduced so that Childs can be released from prison.
"Mr. Childs intends to not only disprove those charges, but also expose the utter mismanagement, negligence and corruption at (the Technology Department) which, if left unchecked, will in fact place the city of San Francisco in danger," she said.
Mayor intervenes in San Francisco network takeover
By Iain Thomson on Jul 24, 2008 9:57AM