San Francisco's mayor gets back keys to the network

Gavin Newsom meets with Terry Childs

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom met with jailed IT administrator Terry Childs Monday, convincing him to hand over the administrative passwords to the city's multimillion dollar wide area network.

Childs made headlines last week when he was arrested and charged with four counts of computer tampering, after he refused to give over passwords to the Cisco Systems switches and routers used on the city's FiberWAN network, which carries about 60 per cent of the municipal government's network traffic. Childs, who managed the network before his arrest, has been locked up in the county jail since July 13.

On Monday afternoon, he handed the passwords over to Mayor Newsom, who was "the only person he felt he could trust," according to a declaration filed in court by his attorney, Erin Crane. Newsom is ultimately responsible for the Department of Telecommunications and Information Services (DTIS) where Childs worked for the past five years

Mayor Newsom secured the passwords without first telling DTIS about his meeting with Childs, according to DTIS chief administrative officer Ron Vinson, who added, "We're very happy the mayor embarked on his clandestine mission."

The department now has full administrative control of the network, he said in an interview Tuesday night.

It's likely that Childs had a lot to tell the mayor when the two met.

Childs' attorney has asked the judge to reduce Childs US$5 million bail bond, describing her client as a man who felt himself surrounded by incompetents and supervised by a manager who he felt was undermining his work.

"None of the persons who requested the password information from Mr. Childs ... were qualified to have it," she said in a court filing.

Childs intends to disprove the charges against him but also "expose the utter mismanagement, negligence and corruption at DTIS, which if left unchecked, will in fact place the City of San Francisco in danger," his motion reads.

Vinson dismissed the allegations. "In Terry Childs' mind, obviously he thinks the network is his, but it's not. It's the taxpayers'," he said. "The reason he's been sitting in jail is because he denied the department and others access to the system."

The court filings help explain just how this happened.

According to an affidavit from James Ramsey, an inspector with the San Francisco Police Department, he and other investigators discovered dial-up and DSL (digital subscriber line) modems that would allow an unauthorized connection to the FiberWAN. He also found that Childs had configured several of the Cisco devices with a command that would erase critical configuration data in the event that anyone tried to restore administrative access to the devices, something Ramsey saw as dangerous because no backup configuration files could be found.

This command, called a No Service Password Recovery is often used by engineers to add an extra level of security to networks, said Mike Chase, regional director of engineering with FusionStorm, an IT services provider that supports Cisco products.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?