Suspect In Hijacking Of San Francisco Computer Network 'Willing To Cooperate'

The lawyer for Terry Childs, who has pleaded not guilty, said his client is willing to hand over the password to the city's computer network.

Antone Gonsalves, Contributor

July 18, 2008

2 Min Read

A computer engineer accused of taking control of San Francisco's network and locking out other system administrators has pleaded innocent to four counts of computer tampering.

Terry Childs, 43, of Pittsburg, Calif., was arraigned on charges Thursday before Superior Court Judge Paul Alvarado, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. He remained in jail Friday on $5 million bail.

Childs has refused to disclose the password he allegedly created to lock out other system administrators and supervisors from the city's new FiberWAN (wide area network), which stores 60% of all city government data, including e-mails, law enforcement records, and payroll documents.

However, Childs' court-appointed lawyer Erin Crane said after the arraignment that the case was a big misunderstanding and that the suspect has "been willing to hand over the password since Tuesday," the Chronicle reported. Crane said Childs is "willing to cooperate. We have negotiations ongoing."

Officials with the city Technology Department told the newspaper they were unaware of any offer to hand over the password, and a spokeswoman for District Attorney Kamala Harris refused to comment on any talks between the suspect and prosecutors.

Childs, a member of the team of engineers that built the city's computer system, was highly regarded in the Technology Department. The events leading up to his arrest on Sunday started June 20 when he started taking photographs of the agency's new head of security after she began an audit of who had password access to the system, the newspaper said. Childs' frightening behavior prompted the woman to lock herself in an office.

His supervisors' concerns grew when they discovered he had given himself exclusive access to the system and had developed a way to spy on his bosses' e-mails related to his conduct. Childs was ordered to leave work July 9 for alleged insubordination.

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