Deus ex machina

Quod scripsi, scripsi!

Rogue admin blocks San Francisco network
Robert Lemos 2008-07-16

A Superior Court judge set bail at $5 million on Tuesday for a disgruntled system administrator who locked San Francisco city employees out of the municipal network.

Terry Childs, 43, faces four charges of computer tampering, after he allegedly locked all the other administrators out of the city's FiberWAN network, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The system, which holds 60 percent of the city of San Francisco's data, continued to operate, but officials cannot access administrative functions.

Childs earned almost $150,000 in the past year, including base pay and bonuses for being part of the on-call support team, according to the reports.

"He had the trump card and he could have brought everything down if he wanted to," said Ron Vinson, deputy director of the city's Department of Technology Information Services, according to Wired News.

Insiders have always posed a particularly acute threat to information networks. In 2006, Paine Webber system administrator Roger Duronio was sentenced to eight years in prison for planting a logic bomb in his employers' systems and then attempting to profit from the attack by purchasing stock options that bet against the company. Last week, a senior database administrator at Certegy Check Services was sentenced (pdf) to more than four years in prison and $3.2 million in restitution after selling personal financial details on 2.3 million people to a marketing firm.

In the Childs' case, the judge set the bail higher than that of most suspected murderers after prosecutors successfully argued that the accused could cause more harm to the network. Childs' attorney, deputy public defender Mark Jacobs, called the bail amount "crazy," according to the Chronicle.

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