A network administrator will stand trial for allegedly hijacking the network he designed and maintained for the city of San Francisco.
A superior court judge ruled Wednesday that there was enough evidence to hold Terry Childs for trial on four felony charges of tampering with a computer network, denying other authorized users access to the network, and causing more than $200,000 in losses, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle. Childs, who has been in custody since July 13, had worked at San Francisco's Department of Telecommunication Information Services for five years. Childs, 44, is being held on $5 million bail and is scheduled to be arraigned on January 13.
Childs is accused of tampering with the city's Fiber Wide Area Network after allegedly being disciplined for poor performance. He was also accused of electronically spying on his supervisors and their attempt to fire him.
Childs allegedly denied other administrators access to the system, which maintains law enforcement, payroll, and jail-booking records. Childs reportedly refused to surrender secret codes that would allow access to the system.
However, after a week in the city's jail, Childs agreed to give the access codes to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom during a secret jail house visit. The meeting reportedly was so secret that the police department and district attorney were not informed of the meeting ahead of time.
Childs' attorney has claimed that there was no destructive intent and that Childs was merely protecting the network from incompetent city officials who were trying to force him out of his job.
"Mr. Childs had good reason to be protective of the password," Erin Crane argued in an unsuccessful attempt to lower his client's bail. "His co-workers and supervisors had in the past maliciously damaged the system themselves, hindered his ability to maintain it...and shown complete indifference to maintaining it themselves...He was the only person in that department capable of running that system."