Wednesday, April 28, 2010

San Francisco Computer Hijacker Convicted

"S.F. Admin Guilty of Hijacking City Passwords"
Threat Level, Wired (April 27, 2010)

"After a six-month trial, a San Francisco city admin was found guilty Tuesday of a sole felony count of hijacking the city's computer system.

"Terry Childs, 45, was guilty of one count of locking out the city from its FiberWAN network containing city e-mails, payroll, police records, information on jail inmates and more — virtually an all-access pass to City Hall...."

"...Childs' $5 million bail was set five times higher than most murder defendants' because the authorities feared that, if released, he might permanently lock the system and erase records...."

Like Juvenal said, "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

About that high bail? I think it's reasonable, under the circumstances. And, something of a relief. At least one court seems to have caught on that crimes involving computer networks can be very, very serious: and affect a whole lot of people.

More, about San Francisco City Hall cybertrouble:That CNET News article gives a little more detail than some, of what Childs' lawyer claimed was his motive:

"...Childs' attorney had claimed that there was no destructive intent and that Childs was merely protecting the network from incompetent city officials who were trying to force him out of his job."

Sound a little like "the paranoids are after me!" - maybe Childs really thought that only he could defend the network against those officials.

Actually - with a little work - there's a seriously tacky B-movie science-fiction plot lurking here.

Seriously? I hope San Francisco's city government gets someone with good technical skills and a full sack of marbles to give the city's network a thorough going-over. Just in case the former admin left a little surprise in the code.

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