Thursday, July 17, 2008

Revenge of the Nerds

I suppose it's irresponsible of me, but somehow, I just have to like this guy:
A San Francisco municipal employee is charged with hacking the city's computer system and creating a secret password that gave him virtually exclusive access to most of the city's municipal data.
Hey, wait just a minute: "a secret password?" What the hell other kind of password is there, anyway?
While in jail, held on $5 million bail, he still has refused to reveal the password that would give full access to the network back to city employees, city officials say.

Terry Childs, 43, will plead not guilty in court today, his lawyer told

Childs, an employee of the city's Department of Technology, was arrested Sunday and charged with four counts of computer network tampering.

"He was able to prevent other authorized users from being able to access the system, and at same time, put in place devices that gave him access to areas of the network which he was not authorized to access," said Erica Derryck, spokeswoman for the San Francisco district attorney's office.
If I'm that IT guy, I'm telling them: I'm not talking to you clowns. Go get Detectives Green and Fontana to interrogate me, then bring in Jack McCoy and a few of his attractive associates to negotiate my plea bargain, which will be: you get your password, and I plead guilty to, let's say, some "D" misdemeanor -- time served, and a $5 fine. Case closed, dudes, and next time, learn some CS instead of jacking around in law school.

Of course it's too much to hope for, but I'd like to see Mr. Childs's next job be with some part of the Fed'rul Gooberment. Ideally, in the Pentagon.


Kathryn Magendie said...


Charlotte said...

So , what was his problem or issue? I mean, I assume he must have been protesting working conditions or treatment or something.

Otherwise why pull a nonsensical stunt that lands him a criminal charge and probably a criminal conviction which will stay on his record.

If it was just for fun or just to see if he could do it, then throw the book at him, move on and rework the network - even it it will take months.

Why let this guy hold the City hostage?

Jim Wetzel said...

First of all, Charlotte, thank you for the link, which I have reciprocated.

I do not know what the info-technologist's motivation was; I was simply amused by the idea of the bright guy inconveniencing the dull-guys-with-guns. And I don't think he was holding the city hostage ... I think he was inconveniencing the city's rulers, which is something that we should all do, in some small way, as often as the opportunity presents itself.

Karen Goldner said...

..."a secret password?" What the hell other kind of password is there, anyway?

How about the kind of password that you write on a post-it and stick on your keyboard?

Jim Wetzel said...

I know a guy at the day job who uses that sort of password. The network folks would be unamused, I'm sure, if they knew about his practices.

I suppose a word that you write down and leave out in view isn't a "password;" instead, it's more of a "useless formality."