CCIE Pursuit Blog

July 23, 2008

WTF Ending(?) To San Francisco Network Engineer Scandal

Filed under: OT: Humor — cciepursuit @ 4:36 pm

If you haven’t been following the story of the San Francisco network engineer, here’s the backstory: a CCIE working for the city of San Francisco set up the FiberWAN network with himself as the only person who had access to the network equipment.  After a dust-up with his boss, he refused to disclose the password to access the FiberWAN routers.  Even though he was arrested and facing years in prison, he refused to disclose the password….until the mayor paid him a visit.

After a weeklong standoff with a city employee accused of hacking into San Francisco’s government computer system, Mayor Gavin Newsom gained the suspect’s password after a rare jailhouse visit, according to authorities.

Newsom apparently made a secret jailhouse visit to Terry Childs, 43, who 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.

While in jail and held on $5 million bail, Childs initially refused to reveal the password that would give full access to the network back to city employees, city officials said. But that changed when Newsom agreed to meet Childs on Monday.

The mayor “figured it was worth a shot, because although Childs is not a Boy Scout, he’s not Al Capone either,” Newsom spokesman Nathan Ballard told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The meeting was apparently arranged without the district attorney’s knowledge. Several calls to the DA’s office were not returned.

Childs, an employee of the city’s Department of Technology, pleaded not guilty in court last week to four counts of computer network tampering.

—Read The Rest Here—


  1. lol this is hilarious!! When I read this the first time I thought WOW this guy Terry Childs is being a real butt. What gets me is that people are really naive when it comes to network administration. I have worked for government facilities and under no circumstances will only ONE individual have the keys to the entire kingdom. That just would not happen. Very interesting, I am wondering how much time will Terry Childs get now that he has cooperated with authorities.

    Comment by erica — July 23, 2008 @ 6:13 pm | Reply

  2. I would have demanded a visit from Jessica Alba. But yeah, this whole thing wreaks of epic failure on all sides.

    Comment by stretch — July 24, 2008 @ 12:09 am | Reply

  3. @erica – At the companies that I’ve worked at it’s usually been the case that TOO MANY people have access to the systems. It’s amusing to see what can happen when the opposite is true.

    @stretch – LOL! I like the way you think.

    Comment by cciepursuit — July 24, 2008 @ 10:13 am | Reply

  4. It was a bit of a tame ending in my opinion. Pitty about the bloke Terry Child’s I mean he might face a prison sentence and he has almost certainly thrown his whole career away. Yet he must have worked pretty hard to build his career in the first place, his judgment definitely let him down on this one.

    Comment by Ferret999 — July 24, 2008 @ 1:23 pm | Reply

  5. I am not convinced the guy is a CCIE. The thing that made me question whether Childs is actually a CCIE was a comment posted to a blog entry called “San Francisco Learns Not to Irk the Computer Geek” ( The comment was from Dana Hom (Former COO & Director of DTIS, City and County of San Francisco): “Terry is a dedicated principal network engineer, with an equivalent Cisco CCIE certification. He is not a system administrator, server administrator, or any of the other labels that the media has given him.”

    An equivalent Cisco CCIE certification? Haven’t heard of that one.

    Comment by Alana — July 24, 2008 @ 7:12 pm | Reply

  6. […] I though that this piece of the absurd theater had come to an appropriately bizarre ending when Terry Childs gave up his passwords to the mayor of San Francisco, but I was wrong.  Today we find out that the SF DA has made a bunch of usernames and passwords […]

    Pingback by SF Network Admin: The Buffoonery Never Ends « CCIE Pursuit Blog — July 29, 2008 @ 8:56 am | Reply

  7. Was there no rommon on the devices to bypass the password?

    Comment by Mike — April 19, 2009 @ 5:13 pm | Reply

  8. I worked with Terry Childs at a (Large Automotive Company) in Michigan for a couple years. He’s a hard worker and very knowledgable. He was a workohalic, and in some instances he was the only person who fully understood the complex border gateway networks using content based routing. He was the god of that network, and he did an excellent job with it.

    Hope it all works out ok, lots of confusion. But, I know he’s good at heart and as well, he really knows his stuff. Back then, he was afraid to let people help him. The network was so complex that other people would make a small change, then Terry would be up all night cleaning up the pieces left behind and putting the network back together the right way. This happened several times, and even the managers approving the change controls really did not know what the affects would be. “Terry to the rescue” was a frequent saying around there in the network operations center.

    Just thought I’d share my contact with him.


    Comment by Chris — October 14, 2009 @ 10:45 am | Reply

  9. …and Terry Childs is a CCIE. He is number 14018.


    Comment by Chris — October 14, 2009 @ 10:49 am | Reply

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