Court Delays Hearing for Accused S.F. WAN Hijacker

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-02-09

Terry Childs, the network architect and administrator who is accused of holding the city of San Francisco's WLAN hostage for nine days last July in a professional disagreement with his manager, is still watching the wheels of justice move ever so slowly.

The fight by Childs to have a court dismiss three of the four felony charges he is facing for allegedly hijacking the city's fiber optic wide-area network last year has been prolonged.

Childs appeared in court for a motion hearing Feb. 9, but the San Francisco Superior Court has re-scheduled the hearing for Feb. 13, said Connie Chan, deputy director at the San Francisco District Attorney's office.

Childs, 43, was arrested on July 13, 2008 on four felony charges of tampering with the city's FiberWAN network. He changed several high-security passwords and refused to hand them over to department managers after claiming that his managers couldn't be trusted to run the system themselves. He also claimed they had been negligent about allowing viruses and malware into the system.

The nine-day standoff was broken July 23 after Childs divulged the network login codes to Mayor Gavin Newsom during a jailhouse meeting. Despite a hearing with a judge in an effort to lower his bond, Childs remains in jail in lieu of $5 million bail.

Childs, who resides in Pittsburg, Calif., is the chief designer of the system's FiberWAN, which contains about 60 percent of the city's sensitive human resources, payroll and other personal data.

Data from San Francisco's servers always was able to be accessed; entry into the network switches and routers -- which control the flow and direction of data input/output -- is what was locked down by Childs.

The system ran on virtual autopilot for about 10 days while Department of Technology head Ron Vinson and others tried to regain access during the standoff.

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