A former network admin is facing up to five years in prison. His crime? According to him, it was refusing to hand over passwords to folks who weren’t authorized to use them.
Terry Childs worked as a network administrator for the city of San Francisco. In 2008, he blocked access to critical parts of the city’s the network and refused to turn over the passwords to city officials. He was arrested, and revealed the passwords only after spending several days in jail.
In the meantime, employees were unable to access police records, payroll data and other information.
After the incident, it was discovered that Childs had several criminal convictions before San Fransisco hired him — including counts of robbery and theft. According to the city, Childs was disgruntled because he found out his job was in jeopardy and was trying to make himself indispensable to the city’s IT department.
But the admin painted a different picture of the situation: He was simply doing his job by protecting the network.
He claimed he was first asked for the passwords in a meeting that included a police representative, a Human Resources staffer and some unseen engineers on a telephone conference call. He refused, on the grounds that some of the folks present weren’t authorized to access the network, according to an InfoWorld interview.
In addition, he was afraid the passwords might be shared with other members of management or outside contractors.
In other words, Childs claimed he was simply following the best practices for a network administrator.
However, a jury didn’t see it that way. On April 28, Childs was found guilty of a felony charge of denying access to a computer system, the San Fransisco Chronicle reports. He faces a maximum prison of five years, though he’s expected to spend, at most, a few months in jail before parole. Sentencing is scheduled for June.
What’s your take on the story? Was Childs a disgruntled admin who held his employer hostage, or was he simply doing his civic duty in refusing to broadcast passcodes that would give a group of people access to the network he maintained?
Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.