By Robert McMillan
IDG News Service
April 28, 2010
Terry Childs' guilty conviction struck a nerve with IT staffers this
Here was a man who, by all accounts, was good at his job, though lacking
in interpersonal skills. Suddenly, on July 9, 2008, he's pushed into a
tense situation -- a hostile conference call with the human resources
department, his boss and even a police officer, all listening in, and
told to hand over the passwords to the City of San Francisco's FiberWAN
network, which he helped build. He chokes and hands over bogus
passwords. Later, he argues that he did this because nobody in the room
was qualified to have administrative access to the network.
IT people are used to being held accountable for bad decisions made by
their superiors, and some people who've read about the case feel some
sympathy for Mr. Childs. After all, the city's network never went down,
and Childs eventually did hand over control of the FiberWAN to San
Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom -- the only person Childs felt was
competent to have the passwords.
"How exactly was he breaking the law?" wrote one Slashdot poster,
reacting to news of Childs' conviction. "[H]e refused to disclose the
passwords when the person requesting them did not follow proper
While the City of San Francisco apparently did a poor job in spelling
out the protocols for handing over administrative control of its
network, Childs was still guilty of a crime. A jury found him guilty of
breaking California's hacking laws on Tuesday, and when he is sentenced
on June 14, he will be facing a possible five-year prison term.
So how did Childs break the law? We put the question to one of the best
people able to answer it: Juror # 4, also known as Jason Chilton. In
addition to having listened to countless hours of courtroom testimony,
he also happens to be a Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) and a
senior network engineer with payroll administrator Automatic Data
Processing. (ADP) He's spent the past five months of his life on the
trial, which began jury selection in late November. According to him,
there's much more to the Terry Childs case than most people realize.
Following is an edited version of an interview he gave the IDG News
Service on Wednesday, the day after the verdict was handed down.
Best Selling Security Books and More!
Shop InfoSec News