San Fransisco Mayor Regains Control of the Network


In the story we recently covered where Terry Childs had locked San Fransisco officials out of their own network, there is a new development.

He’s handed over the passcode to the Mayor, Gavin Newsom. It seems he came to his senses and he also seems to have VERY little faith in the IT administration for the SF government network.

“The first thing I want you to know, Mr. Mayor, is that when you walk out of this room, you will have the computer codes.”

Those words – delivered to Mayor Gavin Newsom by imprisoned city computer tech Terry Childs in a small, fourth-floor room at city jail Monday – signaled the beginning of the end of the weeklong standoff in which San Francisco officials found themselves in the embarrassing position of being locked out of their own computer system.

Childs – whom some have described as a friendly, hard worker at the city Technology Department, and others have labeled an over-the-top control freak – has been sitting in jail since July 13 on $5 million bail, after being arrested for reconfiguring key passwords in the city’s computer system.

He handed the details over without too much trouble or persuasion by the looks of it, I guess he realised he was actually in quite serious trouble and he should comply or face a stiff sentence.

He might the right choice I think.

A team of code crackers brought in from Cisco Systems had been working around the clock to try to decipher Childs’ codes, but with only marginal success.

“It wasn’t cheap and I just couldn’t see us keep spending that kind of money,” Newsom said.

Then, out of the blue, Childs’ lawyer, Erin Crane, called the mayor’s office Monday afternoon, offering a jailhouse meeting.

Childs, according to the lawyer, was ready to give up the codes – but only to the mayor, who had gone out of his way in his public comments not to portray Childs as some sort of monster.

Newsom didn’t hesitate. Without asking the city attorney for an opinion or giving a heads up to police or the district attorney, he was at the Hall of Justice in half an hour.

Well at least we can have faith in our Cisco equipment, even the Cisco guys themselves can’t crack it so there’s no backdoor!

It’ll be interesting to see how this case develops and what happens to Mr Childs after this.

Source: SFGate

Posted in: Hacking News, Legal Issues, Networking Hacking

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6 Responses to San Fransisco Mayor Regains Control of the Network

  1. Gul July 23, 2008 at 1:03 pm #

    Loving the joke at the end !

    “Well at least we can have faith in our Cisco equipment, even the Cisco guys themselves can

  2. Colin July 23, 2008 at 3:18 pm #

    I agree — if cisco had a backdoor, then they certainly wouldn’t use it in this situation. Let’s face it – it’s win-win for cisco, as they get a huge amount of free advertising, and they get to “prove” that their equipment is safe. I’m sure they do have a backdoor, as does the federal government. However, revealing one over something as little as this would be far more negative then any damage Childs could have done.

  3. zupakomputer July 23, 2008 at 3:45 pm #

    The comments are likely true, as is the fact that folks trained only on those kinds of certifications are borg-trained to company standards; you don’t tend to get work in those kinds of places if you are a real person.
    You have to sell your soul to the Temple of Money and fit yourself into a pre-determined mould that’s the real-life version of taking the blue pill.

    And it all adds more weight to some of what I had commented on this already – that most of us know or think that such unscrupulous methods by companies are bog-standard carried out, why does anyone bother to persist in playing a game whereby they pretend they are not aware that such things are commonplace.

    Note how blase we are that anyone would even consider wasting time so they can get paid more: consider how many will read that and think ‘so what, that’s how it is’. And anyone is condemning that guy for what he did? Such a world is headed for nothing but the worst kind of trouble.

    That kind of thing is precisely why there are hackers doing the online equivalent of the Falling Down guy: ‘your system is bs & it deserves to die’.

    Does anything happen these days that isn’t controlled by microchips somewhere along the line.

  4. TrinitronX July 25, 2008 at 12:38 am #

    “Well at least we can have faith in our Cisco equipment, even the Cisco guys themselves can

  5. grav July 25, 2008 at 1:54 am #

    “Childs – whom some have labeled [as] an over-the-top control freak”

    I read that article that was posted by a member in the other entry

    (the one that announced Childs’ misdemeanor)

    and while reading it, I started to think how exactly true the above was. Sure… many IT people think of their networks as almost their children… but isn’t locking them up and throwing away the key a little bit drastic?

    Children are impressionable, and maybe leaving them in other people’s hands would change them into something else.. but that does not mean that they have to stay in the sterile home environment. I think Childs is having issues with himself more than others. He needs to learn to live a bit. Maybe if he was more comfortable with himself, he would not have these problems. I doubt he would not trust the other IT guys if they were his friends.

  6. Morgan Storey July 31, 2008 at 2:41 pm #

    @grav: I have met IT guys like this, on their network everything has to be done there way, even if there is a better more secure way. Flexibility is what leads to a truly good network. Control where control is needed though.
    But I guess if you have been working on something for a long time you may get an attachment.
    I think that is why situations like this shouldn’t occur, two people to a job, and both have to have the whole picture. Even then you move them around occasionally, not just so they don’t get attached but so they stay sharp and so they don’t get bored and look elsewhere.
    On the cisco backdoor thing, I doubt they have one. I wouldn’t bet my life on it, but I doubt it. I used to know one of the IOS developers and they had a hard enough time meeting deadlines for advertised features, let alone having the time to put in a back door.