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San Francisco's 'rogue' sysadmin faces trial

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Terry Childs, the allegedly rogue sysadmin accused of locking San Francisco authorities out of their own network at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars, will stand trial on four charges of tampering with a computer network.

At a preliminary hearing last week, a judge ruled there was enough evidence of his probable guilt to go forward to trial, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. His arraignment hearing was scheduled for January 13.

Childs, 44, from Pittsburg, has been held on $5m bail since July. He allegedly withheld a master password to San Francisco's new FiberWAN municipal network, which he created and ran. FiberWAN reportedly handles about 60 per cent of the city's data, including police and payroll records.

Officials were locked out of the network for almost two weeks in July. Childs eventually gave up the password after a jail visit from San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom.

In an unsuccessful bid to have his bail reduced, Childs' lawyer argued that he had created the password to protect FiberWAN. "Mr Childs had good reason to be protective of that network," said defence lawyer Erin Crane. "His co-workers and supervisors had in the past maliciously damaged the system themselves.

"He was the only person in the department capable of running that system."

Prosecutors have claimed that Childs created and withheld the password as an "insurance policy" against being fired. Prior to the lockout he was the subject of disciplinary procedures for allegedly poor performance, they said.

In September it was reported that the total cost of the incident could exceed $1m. ®

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