S.F. Hacker Deeply Troubled, Turned City Computer System Into "His Own Private Network"

Illustration for article titled S.F. Hacker Deeply Troubled, Turned City Computer System Into His Own Private Network

Initially, Terry Child's hijacking of the San Francisco computer network had a rebellious vibe about it that was, well...sort of admirable. However, much has happened in the last couple of weeks that has painted him as more than a simple disgruntled employee. Now it seems that Childs is actually a brilliant but deeply disturbed individual that sought to take down the network that he constructed based on paranoia and an insatiable need for power and revenge.


Apparently, the passcodes recovered by Mayor Gavin Newsom last Monday did not grant administrator access to the entire system as everyone had hoped. Instead, they provided access to a computer at the Hall of Justice that no one was aware of. They also discovered that Childs had set up more than 1,000 computer modems in locked cabinets and other hiding places as part of a network he was building right under the noses of his superiors. Prosecutors now believe that Childs envisioned a meltdown of the entire system that would target supervisors he considered to be incompetent and inferior to himself. And, the best part was that the system was booby-trapped so that routine system maintenance would trigger the destruction of sensitive city records. Child's hands would be clean-so to speak.


We have also learned that Childs had a troubled past and lied about it to get his job. As a teen, he spent time in jail for aggravated robbery and was arrested a second time for assault. Police have also recently found ammunition in his home that he was not authorized to have. Why his past was not uncovered during a background check is unclear, but when you put a man in charge of the entire computer network for the city of San Francisco, you would think that due diligence would be in order. At this point, Childs remains in prison with bail set at $5 million until further decisions regarding his fate are set during a hearing on September 24th. [SF Gate and SF Gate]

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Let's be clear: Child's gave the master password to the SF mayor personally. He said: I can't trust this information to anyone but you. The incompetence in the SF IT department was so bad, that he locked everything down and ran. Think about that. How bad does it have to get to do what he did?

WELL, immediately after unlocking the system, the current IT manager filed a criminal lawsuit in which he SPELLED OUT EVERY MAJOR PASSWORD IN USE! What kind of moron makes public all of your key system passwords?

Maybe Child's is right. Maybe he really did what he thought was best for SF.