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17 July 2008, 16:27

"Rogue technician" arrested

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Network administrators working for the City of San Francisco still do not have access to the municipal computer system's backbone. In a sort of "cyber coup", an administrator and co-designer of the "FiberWAN network" has gained control of the system by limiting access through a password only he knows. The IT expert, who has been in custody since Monday, refuses to reveal what the correct password is. Up to now, he has only given the police invalid passwords.

Specialists from Cisco Systems hired by the City, have also not yet been able to get access to the administration network. According to the San Francisco Chronicle's online edition, the FiberWAN network handles 60 per cent of all business for San Francisco's authorities, especially a large amount of email traffic between authority heads, records held by investigators, and salary checks.

The network administrator, who is currently held in custody, came under suspicion when it turned out that he was spying on email correspondence between his superiors in a discussion concerning him; he also drew attention to himself by acting conspicuously when passing through security. He is currently charged with four violations related to the manipulation of computers and with insubordination. His bail has been set at five million dollars.

According to the newspaper report, the authorities fear that, although he has given them no grounds to think it, the administrator may be able to communicate with a third-party, by phone or some other means and tell that party how to enter the administration system and destroy critical data.

The authorities say that the man being held in custody was increasingly perceived to be "protecting" the system. The mayor has called the administrator's actions "a bit maniacal". It has been discovered that the administrator already has a criminal record. He was found guilty of aggravated burglary some 25 years ago and served five years on probation.


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