San Francisco Locked Out of Own Data By Disgruntled Employee

A systems admin in San Francisco apparently decided to bring San Francisco grinding to a halt, and refuses to divulge the passwords he set up across the city's entire network.

"It sounds like a plot from Hollywood: A team of techies is busily trying to crack passwords to get access to parts of San Francisco's computer network. They are doing so at the direction of city officials, who have discovered that they are locked out of parts of their new multimillion-dollar system.

But for the City by the Bay, it's a story line they didn't see coming.

Local officials charge that one of their own employees, a network administrator named Terry Childs, gave himself exclusive access to key switches on the network. After they discovered the problem, Mr. Childs was interrogated by the police, but unlike the disgruntled programmers in the movie "Office Space," he apparently hasn't been fazed by the threat of prison. Authorities say he first gave police bogus passwords and now sits in jail refusing to divulge his abracadabras.

Childs pleaded not guilty last Thursday to four felony counts of computer network tampering. His lawyer declared it all a big misunderstanding and called the $5 million bail inappropriate. But San Francisco officials aren't sure what Childs has done behind password locks, and they worry he might have created back channels into city data."

Full Story: A city locked out of its own data network

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