SF's silent sysadmin pleads not guilty
The password? Can't say? Won't say?
The sysadmin accused of locking the San Francisco city council out of its computer network was back in jail yesterday after pleading not guilty to four counts of computer tampering.
Terry Childs was locked up in lieu of $5m bail last weekend, after the city accused him of creating a super password for its new FiberWan network, and locking out other users. Childs had been suspended after a run-in with one of his superiors.
Childs, a 42-year-old from Pittsburg, California, initially coughed up a password to investigators but this proved to be bogus. He has since refused to give up the real password, according to reports.
The silent sysadmin’s lawyer, speaking after his arraignment, insisted Childs was willing to help the city get back into the network, and had been willing to handover the password since Tuesday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
She said he was “willing to cooperate. We have negotiations ongoing.”
She also said the $5m bail was ridiculous and that Childs was “not the bad actor” in the case.
The City’s tech dept though said they were unaware of any negotiations, and for now, while the network is running, it seems the city authorities are still unable to get in to service the network.
Earlier in the week SF mayor Gavin Newsom said "He was very good at what he did, and sometimes that goes to people's heads and we think that's what this is about."
Childs’ lawyer characterised the case as a misunderstanding that had been blown out of proportion by the media. Certtainly the case has gained worldwide coverage, and will no doubt prompt many organisations to look again at who’s got access to their networks.
Childs seems to have gained Robin Hood-type notoriety amongst some sysadmins. Some have raised the absurdity of someone accused of a data crime which has yet to hurt anyone being held on more bail than someone accused of serious violence, while others have questioned what kind of oversight the San Francisco government exercised if it let someone effectively annexe its entire network. ®
Would you work for SF as a sysadmin?
The guy did his job and was terminated. This fuss about the network being locked up tight while still running means he did his job. If they had asked for a smooth turnover to his successor all this would have been avoided. If they had redundancy in the sysadmin position this would have been avoided. If they had required documentation of routine operational procedures, system tweaks, and passwords, this would have been avoided. Bean counters with tight budgets mess up systems, too.
I took over a system (not SF) from a guy who left no documentation and I had to hack into every machine to regain control. When I left there was a 60 page manual with all the details of how to run the system. If I had been suddenly dismissed there could have easily been a similar crisis for the next guy but that did not happen because reasonable employment practices were followed.
It looks to me like SF is a place sysadmins should avoid.
re: Deleting accounts
Seems so simple right? Some higher up just "deleted" his account? The one account, apparently, used to gain superuser access to an LDAP/Active Directory backed network of systems. So much talk of resetting Cisco routers, and network configuration issues. If there was any user in the network with the ability to "Delete" superuser accounts, then there is a user with the ability to CREATE the same.
Now, let me get this straight here. The BOFH is locked up, and the.. engineers.. can't get in. Of COURSE the PFY is assisting the engineers perfectly right? Well trained I'd say.
Mine's the one with the cattle prod in the pocket.....
I like it - but it's wrong.
If he wants to take the hard road, keep the passwd secret and screw SF city for fun, I'm already enjoying it..
After all, Sysadmins have above average IQ's, I trust he was probably stiffed by some corporate w4nk3r and took revenge - All BOFH wannabees can take pleasure from this.
On the other hand, IT IS WRONG. He was employed to manage, he doesn't own the equipment, and having complete control over the network isn't his right, it belongs to whoever SF City nominates. (they were stupid to let it get like this in the first place)
I reckon he should pony up now, get whatever leniency he can for cooperation and get on with his life.
Can't really criticize the city for throwing the book, but I can't help but enjoy the fact that their ineptitude has been shown to the world for what it is.
.... Here's hoping for a lenient sentence. But no matter how good he is, who will trust him with their network now?
Mines the password protected one.
funny story started to change with new lawer.
quote "been willing to hand over the password since Tuesday".
Looks like paranoia brought on by overwork to me.
All started off with a Audit.
did they try