The case against the network administrator who held hostage the passcodes to San Francisco’s computer network has finally made it to trial. For the first time, he’s telling his side of the story.
And what a story it is.
Terry Childs talked to a reporter from InfoWorld and laid out his rationale for refusing to give out the passwords when ordered to by his bosses: He was protecting the network.
He says that it was his job to guard the network from tampering. When his superiors called a meeting on July 9 and demanded he give administrator codes for the network to a group of people — including a police representative, a human resources staffer and some unseen engineers on a telephone conference call — he balked.
Instead he gave fake passcodes that didn’t let any of the audience have access to the network.
Childs was then arrested and charged with tampering himself.
The July 9 meeting brought to a head a protracted fight between Childs and his managers, who’d been trying to get administrative passwords to the network since the previous February.
In court filings, Childs insists he’d refused to provide the password because he was afraid they would be shared with management or outside contractors.
Childs eventually gave up the codes to the city’s mayor.
Refusing to give out the passwords may have been insubordination, Childs contends, but it isn’t criminal. It’s just following best practices for a network administrator, which is what he was.
Childs has spent seven months in prison for refusing to give up those passwords. He’s been portrayed as a network admin gone rogue, but the story he’s now telling paints a different picture.
Is it believable? Was he doing his civic duty in refusing to broadcast passcodes that would give a group of people access to the network he designed and maintained? Or is he a control freak with delusions of grandeur and importance?
Your thoughts …