City of San Francisco regains network access
The City of San Francisco has regained access to its computer network after Terry Childs, the computer engineer accused of malicious tampering with the network, surrendered working passwords during a secret visit by the city's mayor. Childs has been held in prison on a $5m bail for more than a week on felony charges of computer tampering, and until Monday night had refused to reveal access codes to the city's FiberWAN network. The network, which 43-year-old Childs helped build, is said to handle about 60 per cent of the city's information, including law enforcement, payroll and jail booking records.
According to a Tuesday report from the San Francisco Chronicle Childs' defence attorney Erin Crane, contacted the Mayor's office directly on Monday night, and Mayor Gavin Newsom decided independently to accept the invitation to pay the jailhouse visit, not even informing the district attorney's office. Mayoral spokesman Nathan Ballard told the Chronicle – Newsom "figured it was worth a shot, because although Childs is not a Boy Scout, he's not Al Capone either". According to Ballard, he accompanied Newsom to the Hall of Justice jail where they met with Childs for about 15 minutes and Childs surrendered the codes. Ballard said that at first, these didn't work, but after more information supplied by Childs, administrators were able to regain access to the FiberWAN.
Childs' attorney last week filed a not-guilty plea to four counts of computer tampering, which carry a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. In a motion placed before the court on Tuesday requesting a reduction in Childs' bail, his attorney said it was in fact incompetent city officials who placed the city's network at risk, citing past incidents of malicious damage and neglect. She said, on one occasion a virus introduced by a colleague threatened to infect the network, due to mismanagement. She argued Childs' refusal to turn over the passwords did not pose a danger to the public.
His attorney said Childs was convicted in Kansas at the age of 19 for aggravated robbery, but served time for the crime, got an education and rose "to the top of his field". According to the Chronicle last week Newsom described Childs as someone who had been well-liked, but had recently grown "a bit maniacal".