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Judge Orders Former San Francisco Admin Terry Childs To Pay $1.5M

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the rough-justice dept.

Crime 488

0WaitState writes "A judge Tuesday ordered a former city worker who locked San Francisco out of its main computer network for 12 days in 2008 to pay nearly $1.5 million in restitution, prosecutors said.' Keep in mind the network never went down and no user services were denied, and given that Terry Childs was the only one who had admin access (for years prior) it is difficult to understand how they came up in $1.5 million in costs, unless they're billing Terry Childs for the City's own failure to set up division of responsibility and standby emergency access procedures?"

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Perhaps.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164186)

This is an example that drives home the fact that people might actually give a crap about network meddling.

Re:Perhaps.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164736)

An IT guy on a power trip acted like a prick and that resulted in serious consequences. Let's see what the slashdot community thinks. ;)

This might as well be a story about getting arrested for living in mom's basement.

Re:Perhaps.... (3, Insightful)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164792)

An IT guy on a power trip acted like a prick and that resulted in serious consequences. Let's see what the slashdot community thinks. ;)

This might as well be a story about getting arrested for living in mom's basement.

he's paying the price for embarrassing the powerful?

Take that Terry Childs (4, Insightful)

seeker_1us (1203072) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164192)

We will make an example out of you, who cares about justice?

Re:Take that Terry Childs (5, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164240)

It's probably billing him for the temerity to actually take his case to trial.

You know, exercising his constitutional rights. That's something the "justice" system has to punish at all costs.

Here's some info for you. [fhsulaw.com]
Here's more [slate.com] .

Or, to put it in a more sinister way: You get a heavier sentence if you insist on asserting your constitutional rights to a trial, to confront your accusers, to privacy from searches without probable cause, to avoid incriminating yourself, etc.

I thought the exact same thing (3, Informative)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164334)

so I looked myself and found this article
http://sfappeal.com/news/2011/05/sf-network-engineer-convicted-of-witholding-passwords-ordered-to-pay-15-million-restitution.php [sfappeal.com]
"No city services were ever affected, but officials said they could have been crippled if power had somehow been shut off.

A jury convicted Childs in April 2010 of a computer tampering-related charge, and today San Francisco Superior Court Judge Teri Jackson ordered him to pay $1,485,791 in restitution to the Department of Technology,"

he's paying it to the department of technology, not justice.. so... no...

Re:I thought the exact same thing (4, Interesting)

hesiod (111176) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164546)

he's paying it to the department of technology, not justice

Just because it's not a court-ordered bribe doesn't mean it's definitely not a punishment verdict.

Re:I thought the exact same thing (2)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164748)

he's paying it to the department of technology, not justice.. so... no...

Do you have any idea how much money you can burn through in just one day of providing network services to an entire city's government? Wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if the SF Dept of Technology spent that much or more trying to deal with the "rogue admin who absconded with all the data/access". The taxpayers *do* need to be reimbursed for that. This might actually be an example of the system working properly, though I do not know enough detail to say for sure.

Re:Take that Terry Childs (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164408)

He caused no damage in the "real world," but he tied up the courts and the city's lawyers, and you know, at $500 per billable hour, 1.5M is only 3000 man hours, or 3 lawyers for 6 months, plus expenses.

Essentially, the judge has handed him a bankruptcy sentence - something he may not have been far from anyway.

Re:Take that Terry Childs (3, Informative)

scubamage (727538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164468)

Not really, just a financial ruin sentence. You can't get out of legal penalties by declaring bankruptcy :(

Re:Take that Terry Childs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164520)

"pay nearly $1.5 million in restitution", it doesn't sound like "legal penalty" but like restitution.

Re:Take that Terry Childs (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164570)

It's probably billing him for the temerity to actually take his case to trial.

Exactly! It is for letting the public know just how stupid the people working for the gooberment are. Including himself.

Re:Take that Terry Childs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164666)

That's a bit disingenuous. It's not for taking his case to trial - it's for doing something illegal, not admitting it, and wasting everyone's time and money over it.

There's nothing wrong with legal fees as a part of a guilty sentence. You seem to imply that this is the cost of defending yourself; it's clearly not. If he were innocent, he'd pay nothing.

Re:Take that Terry Childs (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164718)

It's probably billing him for the temerity to actually take his case to trial.

You know, exercising his constitutional rights. That's something the "justice" system has to punish at all costs.

Here's some info for you. [fhsulaw.com]
Here's more [slate.com] .

Or, to put it in a more sinister way: You get a heavier sentence if you insist on asserting your constitutional rights to a trial, to confront your accusers, to privacy from searches without probable cause, to avoid incriminating yourself, etc.

He had no constitutional right to do what he did. Free speech does not apply in the workplace. Well, it does, you are free to exercise it, but there is nothing that precludes the employer for terminating you for do so. Most employees think they have all of these "rights," but they should quit relying on TV shows. In all states, save Oregon (I think), all employees are at will employees and can be let go for no reason whatsoever. The only "rights" that employees have are those actually outlined by law and free speech, as it applies to an employee does not exist, unless it is with regards to certain other protected things (ie. speaking out against illegal discrimination). Union workers may have something in their contracts to preclude this, but otherwise that is the real world situation.

Re:Take that Terry Childs (1)

flibbidyfloo (451053) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164728)

You have it backwards. If you insist on going to trial for something then you risk losing and getting hit with the full weight of the current law. If you make a deal first, then you can often get a reduced penalty. You aren't being "penalized" for going to trial, you're getting a "bonus" for saving the system time and effort. Remember, if you insist on exercising your rights you might also go free.

Re:Take that Terry Childs (5, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164278)

Some of us do and some of us do consider Childs to be guilty. He acted like a prick and suffered for it, but imho he was guilty of what he was found guilty of.

Re:Take that Terry Childs (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164364)

He sure as hell isn't guilty of causing them $1.5 million in damages. As stated above, this is punisment for daring to challenge his accusers -- one of the most serious offences in authoritarian law.

Re:Take that Terry Childs (4, Interesting)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164646)

How much is a full review of the network, from the bare bones upward, including reflashing all firmware, and checking all servers going to cost in a city wide network?

$1.5m would be cheap for that.

Re:Take that Terry Childs (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164752)

Unless you only hire one admin to do it.

Re:Take that Terry Childs (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164802)

Using you're logic, that's something they would be forced to do every time there is admin turnover. That's uninformed to say the least. He was not charged for compromising the network. He simply refused to hand over passwords, to which he was lawfully empowered, because his contract had very specific stipulations. The problem came in that the city attempted (non-legally binding which still kept him liable) to wave those stipulations and he became a dick attempting to hold them to it.

He was convicted and seemingly, rightfully so. His handling of the situation was stupid and purposely inflammatory. It appears to be a valid prosecution. The $1.5 million, by far, seems very excessive, especially if he has to do any jail time.

Re:Take that Terry Childs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164760)

So given that there is room to argue over the amount what they're claiming is that they're billing him to cover the 12 day effort to regain control of the systems followed by the longer effort to do analysis to determine if he left behind any surprises. While the city certainly deserves plenty of blame and was negligent in the way it managed a piece of public infrastructure this guy was a flake: according to articles I read he refused to give his bosses access claiming they couldn't be trusted, and he demanded to meet the mayor to give him the passwords. This lasted for a couple of weeks before the mayor received the passwords in a jail cell visit. I'd want to do some analysis on my system as well after this nut job had been in charge for years especially if I had been negligent about how I ran things and had given him and him alone full admin/root rights. I don't know how much it actually cost them versus what they claimed but a payout to cover the costs doesn't seem unreasonable.

How much will the morons in administration (3, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164202)

... who had had exposed hundreds of LIVE login/passwords to city administration system as 'proof', endangering the public system and the private information of citizens and even more, will pay ?

nothing ? i guessed as much. its all ok if you are a moron at the helm of a company or a public office. no really - i am much more polite and eloquent than what wordage you read here, but, i am at a loss to find any word other than moron for publicly exposing hundreds of live login/passwords in a public court. really. morons.

it appears terry childs was right.

That explains it... (4, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164204)

That explains why American culture is so obsessed with vigilante justice - the actual judicial system is fucking retarded .

Re:That explains it... (2, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164276)

it's run by simpletons just like everything else in the U.S. right now...

Re:That explains it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164682)

So who's running your Slashdot account?

Re:That explains it... (3, Insightful)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164342)

Well, also sometimes the only way to get real justice is as a vigilante, and nobody wants to admit that they would go too far with it. Americans tend to view things in absolutes. There is true justice, true good and true evil independent of what society says, thinks or does. If somebody rapes your child it would be true justice to remove that guy's balls and feed them to him, but no court would ever allow that to happen.

Re:That explains it... (4, Insightful)

sco08y (615665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164372)

Any actual evidence that Americans are "obsessed" with vigilante justice? I'm trying to recall the last time I heard of any notorious vigilante actions, and I'm drawing a blank. Even when the WBC crowd protested military funerals, the worst anyone did was slash their tires.

Re:That explains it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164432)

The first rule of vigilante justice is that we don't talk about vigilante justice...

Re:That explains it... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164436)

Haven't you heard of comics?

Re:That explains it... (2, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164478)

Sure, Americans are too lazy to actually do anything themselves, but that doesn't mean we're not obsessed with fictional vigilantes. Pretty much every superhero comic/movie/game/whatever. Most Westerns. The entire "loose-cannon cop on the edge" genre (Dirty Harry, etc) differs from vigilante justice only on a technicality. And look at the way (certain) Americans look at foreign policy: "Someone needs to do something about $COUNTRY, so we'll do it, even though we've got no justification and no permission for intervening." America just wants to be Batman in country form.

Re:That explains it... (1)

Goboxer (1821502) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164762)

America just wants to be Batman in country form.

Who the hell wouldn't?

Re:That explains it... (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164634)

We prefer it when we can get someone else to do the wet work for us.

Re:That explains it... (1)

travdaddy (527149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164662)

I'm trying to recall the last time I heard of any notorious vigilante actions, and I'm drawing a blank.

You've never heard of Batman?!?!

Re:That explains it... (1)

EvilStein (414640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164720)

"Even when the WBC crowd protested military funerals, the worst anyone did was slash their tires."

That's because the WBC is full of lawyers that love to sue everyone they can. If the WBC was full of non-legal types, they would probably have all been beaten to a retarded pulp by now.

Re:That explains it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164684)

You nailed it.

Cost (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164206)

That is the high price of caring about security.

Re:Cost (5, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164314)

He did not care about security other than his own job security. He was one of 'those' types of IT people. You know the ones I mean -- they think "job security" means keeping all the secrets locked away so that only he can fix things when they are broken. Furthermore, they tend to behave as if they own the networks and servers they maintain and they tend to hide their limitations of knowledge and experience from others as well as being unwilling to share what little knowledge they actually have. There might have been a time when that was common enough to be acceptable, but today's business and government leaders see through this.

Good riddance to bad rubbish. "Vendor lock-in" is evil regardless of who practices it.

Re:Cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164456)

Know the ones? Most IT admins on here are the same. They were bullied in high school and now they run the IT department. It gives them a huge, undeserved, ego boost and ability "get back" at the bullies.

Grow up asshats.

Re:Cost (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164740)

No, those people are in the minority now -- I rarely run into those any longer. Sounds like you have been bullied by one of these former victims in the past. Still stings?

Restitution more fair than the jail time... (4, Insightful)

mseeger (40923) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164214)

Terry Childs did some mistakes. I think the restitution for damages is more justified than the criminal punishment he got.

CU, Martin

Re:Restitution more fair than the jail time... (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164288)

Even the restitution is out of hand, what are the chances that he can ever repay that?

Re:Restitution more fair than the jail time... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164374)

How is it out of hand? It's been reported that the spent $900,000 [computerworld.com] trying to regain control of the network. The amount that he is being asked to pay is not particularly excessive. Would you prefer that $900,000 gets billed to taxpayers?

Re:Restitution more fair than the jail time... (1, Redundant)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164384)

It's not like they're actually going to get the money from him.

Re:Restitution more fair than the jail time... (1)

mseeger (40923) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164426)

None, but this is not the issue of the court. The court has to determine the damage caused and award restitution accordingly.

Queue the dude who was on the jury (5, Interesting)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164216)

I forget a lot of what he said, but one of the points which stuck out for me was that Terry kept the keys / passwords out of the key management system, which was against policy. He kept the Keys to the Kingdom in his head, which is just bad IT policy. He also cleaned the backup configs on switches so that any reboots would essentially wipe them clean.

Like I said, a /. poster was on the jury. He'll chip in with better information than anyone else. As for the fine... Well, if he doesn't have that money, he'll default like everyone else would and live off welfare. Shows the system works, eh?

Re:Queue the dude who was on the jury (3, Insightful)

Syberz (1170343) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164472)

Although I do agree that Terry was in the wrong, so was the City for its bad procedures. I just don't think that the wrongness he did is worth 1.5 million dollars.

Guy locks out everyone from the City network after losing his job due to his perceived moral implications: gets a 1.5 million dollar fine.

Guys cause Worldwide economical downturn, massive job loss, massive wealth reduction to the middle and lower classes: get multi-million dollar government jobs.

Wait, what?

Re:Queue the dude who was on the jury (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164514)

Although I do agree that Terry was in the wrong

Wrong! Terry can't have done anything wrong! He's a nerd that was just being oppressed by the evil normies in the city and punished by the "idiots" on the jury! He was just suffering the same fate as the innocent Hans Reiser... oh wait.

Re:Queue the dude who was on the jury (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164564)

He also cleaned the backup configs on switches so that any reboots would essentially wipe them clean.

When I was fresh out of school, the first man who hired me turned into a total nightmare of an asshat after about 3 months (not just to me, essentially to all his new hires who were proving themselves to be more capable than himself - apparently, until this point in his life, he had always been the boy genius...) So, being barely 20 years old (read: immature) my response was to encrypt all my backups and create a wipe script for the work I had done, such that a 2 letter command would erase all my work for Sr. Asshat, and only execution of another two letter command plus password would restore it.

It was not a professional or productive reaction, it was a human one, one that was brought out of me by serious injustices, i.e. being jerked around by an idiot in an attempt to make himself feel powerful. I never issued the kill command, in point of fact, Sr. Asshat's boss protected me from him and eventually gave me his job, but not everyone is so lucky.

20 years later, a similar circumstance arose, except in the latter case I had absolutely no desire to hurt the larger organization and would never have created a kill script - even if the junior toad who was tasked with easing me out the door deserved it for the way he handled the situation, half a dozen other people in the organization, and all the potential future beneficiaries of the tech I "productized" over the last year, didn't.

If society continues to depend on people who they marginalize and mistreat, there will be more Terry Childs in the future, and the potential for spectacular damages far in excess of $1.5M of court costs exists.

Re:Queue the dude who was on the jury (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164636)

You mean this interview [networkworld.com] ? Yeah, it has some interesting points. Such as:
  • If Terry Childs didn't think his boss's boss wasn't an authorized user, why did he CC him in emails containing user IDs and passwords for the same network?
  • If his job is to maintain the network, and he's told he is being reassigned, why would he hand over the network with no way for the city to maintain it?

It seems that Terry Childs made some mistakes, thought he was being fired, and dug himself into a hole.\

IDG News: Going back, what was the one step he could have done to avoid prison? Chilton: If he would have simply said, "I will create you an account and you can go in and you can remove my access if you want." If he had created access for someone else, I think that would have resolved it. If he had not decided to leave and go to Nevada a few days later and withdraw US$10,000 in cash, [Childs did this the day before his arrest, while under police surveillance] I think the police may have let it continue on as an employment issue and not a criminal matter. IDGNS: Do you think Terry Childs deserves another chance? Chilton: Yes I do. He has a lot of knowledge and he has the ability to learn this stuff on his own. I think with what's happened, he's probably not going to get himself hired by an AT&T or a Bank of America, but he could probably do stuff on his own. Because he definitely has the knowledge. IDGNS: Do you think he's a trustworthy person? Chilton: I think for the most part, yes. If he's given clearly defined rules, he could be. I think he's also very stubborn and a little egotistical.

Repay city? (3, Informative)

rackeer (1607869) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164228)

I just RTFA. It says the money is to
repay the city for its efforts in trying to regain control over the FiberWAN network and later test it for vulnerabilities. City officials had been worried that Childs, who helped set up the network but clashed with his supervisors, might try to sabotage it.
Mind, he already spent 2 years in custody and was convicted to 4 years of jail.

Re:Repay city? (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164578)

If they weren't already testing for vulnerabilities, they're bigger idiots than we thought.

Someone explain why he should, merely for having the temerity to assert his right to a trial, have to pay for something they should already have been doing?

Let the guy come here... (0, Flamebait)

joaommp (685612) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164234)

... I'll hire him.

Re:Let the guy come here... (3, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164398)

That scratching sound is onda technology getting added to the "don't use" list all around the world.

Re:Let the guy come here... (1)

joaommp (685612) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164494)

I was aiming for a "Funny" moderation, but hey, the network he set up kept running even with him away from it...

Re:Let the guy come here... (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164586)

That scratching sound is onda technology getting added to the "don't use" list all around the world.

+1 insightful

Wether he was right or wrong in being the only person with admin access, and wether that was a situation he created, or was thrust upon him, I am APPALLED by the fact that he attempted to hold the system for ransom.

There should be a System Admin "Code of Ethics". The closest is the IEEE "Code of Ethics" [ieee.org] , or the ACM "Code of Conduct" [acm.org] if they happen to have joined.

The first is "bite sized", the second is probably more relevant but way more wordy, but how many people even bother joining either?

We are unorganized as a group at large, and the lack of standards to adhere to is part of the problem that we, as a Profession; including Admins, Programmers/Developers, Support Techs; need to address somehow.

(/rant) :)

Re:Let the guy come here... (1)

ammorais (1585589) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164404)

... I'll hire him.

Never mind him. Hire me, I can hold your passwords for as long as you want.

Re:Let the guy come here... (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164430)

Might want to wait seven years before you pay him... until then all his earnings will be garnished.

Re:Let the guy come here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164496)

Might want to wait seven years before you pay him... until then all his earnings will be garnished.

I've always wondered how they manage to put that little sprig of parsley on top of your paycheck now it's all done electronically.

Re:Let the guy come here... (1)

tifkap (1347517) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164556)

I would fire him. There is no excuse for what he did. This guy willingly bypassed password management which is partly there to make sure that no person is indispensable. What if he was hit by a car? This guy was more then irresponsible, he was malicieus (since he refused to hand over the passwd's).

Re:Let the guy come here... (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164746)

Tell me who you are so I can add you to my shitlist.

Guilt by association, isn't it lovely?

Don't take it personally, it just means I don't trust the judgement of someone who would trust an asshole like that.

Not difficult at all (2)

imamac (1083405) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164238)

"it is difficult to understand how they came up in $1.5 million in costs" If you read the article..."Prosecutors had sought the money from Terry Childs, a former Department of Technology network engineer, to repay The City for its efforts in trying to regain control over the FiberWAN network and later test it for vulnerabilities."

Re:Not difficult at all (1)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164358)

Shouldn't "testing it for vulnerabilities" be part of their normal operating costs anyways? If my company gets hit by a virus, is part of the economic damages the cost to install antivirus on all the computers?

Re:Not difficult at all (1)

DMiax (915735) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164444)

I guess they mean testing from the ground up i.e. assuming the system is compromised and previous audits are void. That may be a lot more work than just testing against new/newly discovered attacks.

Re:Not difficult at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164528)

Shouldn't "testing it for vulnerabilities" be part of their normal operating costs anyways? If my company gets hit by a virus, is part of the economic damages the cost to install antivirus on all the computers?

He isn't a virus. If your company found out that a trusted insider wanted to deny control of your system to anyone but himself, they would do a bit more testing and auditing configurations than usual.

Re:Not difficult at all (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164738)

I think they meant testing for any vulnerabilities (eg. backdoors, time bombs) left by Terry Childs. Being system admin, Terry Childs could have left exploits behind that would not be detectable in log files, etc. You'd pretty much would have to manually inspect each configuration, since you couldn't trust the audit software since the checksums being compared could be checksums of configuration files that were already compromised in the previous audit.

Re:Not difficult at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164482)

Contributory Negligence.

I doubt they were paying a hacker $100,000 per day over 12 days. And they never did 'regain control'
because they never had it under control in the first place. I have no idea how audit and disaster recovery did not pick this up earlier. And it is wrong to pay for testing something that had never been tested, especially when it is
'Check password and login combo ' in safe works. And the City saved 'heaps' by having no succession plan.

Hah - I would have awarded 12 days of admin salary * 10 - about a third of a years wages would have been right.

Difficult to understand? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164256)

it is difficult to understand how they came up in $1.5 million in costs, unless they're billing Terry Childs for the City's own failure to set up division of responsibility and standby emergency access procedures?"

Maybe you should read the decision; I'm sure it's all explained in there. Once you've done so, you can discuss the reasoning given by the court and agree or disagree with it, but until then, everything is just idle speculation.

Re:Difficult to understand? (0)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164538)

In case you don't realize most Slashtards have a bias in which Terry Childs could have done no wrong. It's no different to the years of people on here trying to claim that Hans Reiser was innocent and was just being arrested for being awkward. His boss and the "normies" on the jury were clearly just idiots who couldn't possibly see that he was just doing all sorts of amazing things by locking everyone but himself out of being able to admin the network, holding the keys in his head, etc.

Oh thank god.. (5, Funny)

whois (27479) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164258)

At first I thought the citizens were going to have to pay for the cleanup and fixing of all the problems, along with the trial and all that. Now that I know this criminal with no job prospects will be paying the $1.5M I can sleep better at night.

My personal ideas about job integrity end at or a little before the threat of getting arrested so I could argue I don't think what he did was wise (I would've made the guy wanting the passwords put it in writing and then quietly laughed when they broke things), but I don't think the punishment fits the crime at all. Why is there never a middle ground in the justice system between ruining someones life and letting them go free?

And why can't the city just let this one go? They won a long time ago.. back when he was fired, jailed, etc and he surrendered the passwords without the network ever going down.

Let it go? (0)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164410)

"And why can't the city just let this one go? They won a long time ago.. back when he was fired, jailed, etc and he surrendered the passwords without the network ever going down."

how indelibly burned into your psyche is the concept
"I will not be crossing that line!" because of the example they have made, and continue to make, of this individual.

taking another unredeemable swing at him at this later date? serves the same purpose as the electric chair-- a warning to others......

Lets use another example entirely- considering what happened to the poor carpenter from Nazareth, would you consider claiming to be him?

Re:Let it go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164524)

Jesus! What carpenter from Nazareth? i missed that. Have you got a link - KY, TX or MI?

Network was down? (0)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164268)

No... It was not down. It was just not administrable. There is a huge difference.

I think his jail time served and permanent damage to his career is more than sufficient. He is still dumbass of the year, but to fine him more money than he will ever make is too much.

Re:Network was down? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164594)

to fine him more money than he will ever make is too much.

Sure, the city already won when they got the passwords, but they wanted to make the point that they can run up the score. It probably makes little to no difference in Terry Childs life whether he was released or fined $1.5M at this point in time, either way he's not going to get more than subsistence pay for the next seven years.

But... just incase there's somebody with more means (read: more to lose) than Terry in the future, they're hoping for a deterrent effect.

I'd like to remind the audience about the effectiveness of public hanging of pickpockets...

thats wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164272)

this is like suing a guy who used to work at a steel making joint, because they didnt know how to stop the furnace.

Re:thats wrong (1)

tifkap (1347517) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164724)

They couldn't stop the furnace because the last guy who used to operate it ran of with the control-panel is a more accurate description.

Inflammatory summary, anyone? (2, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164290)

From TFS:

"it is difficult to understand how they came up in $1.5 million in costs, unless they're billing Terry Childs for the City's own failure to set up division of responsibility and standby emergency access procedures?"

Come on, we shouldn't be defending this guy otherwise we're no better than the corrupt politicians that occasionally crop up on /. stories.

We all know he was in charge of much of the city's network infrastructure and that ultimately the city dealt with him and his role rather badly - that's not particularly unusual in the public sector anywhere in the world. What's important is how he reacted to it. From what I've heard, his reaction was to say "Fine, if that's going to be your attitude I'll take the passwords to my network and go home!" like a petulant child. But it wasn't his network to take - and I don't believe the arguments that to hand over access to someone unqualified would have put him in greater trouble than refusal to. Faced with an enemy with so much more resources, the sensible thing to do would be to negotiate a way out of any possible repercussions instead of throwing a tantrum.

Re:Inflammatory summary, anyone? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164344)

Incompetence on the part of his superiors meant that it really WAS his network to take, what he did was wrong but it shined a light on an absolutely inept administration which continues to screw the pooch without consequence. He should be punished but not ruined, and his superiors should be beaten with a hose at best.

Re:Inflammatory summary, anyone? (1)

tifkap (1347517) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164580)

No matter how incompetent his supervisers are, it's not *his* network, nor has it ever been. If the administration screws up then it's up to the voters to punish them. The right thing to do would be to hand over the passwd's and complain to the mayor / write a letter to a local newspaper, etc.

Re:Inflammatory summary, anyone? (5, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164354)

The problem isn't that we're defending him. Most people on Slashdot think he's an idiot and a criminal. The problem is the $1.5 million fine. That's around 20 years of his salary (at a comfortable $75k/yr). It's not a matter of whether or not he's guilty or deserves punishment, it's a matter of letting the punishment fit the crime. That pesky eighth amendment that mentions no excessive fines.

Re:Inflammatory summary, anyone? (0)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164558)

Most people on Slashdot think he's an idiot and a criminal.

You must be new here or haven't really followed the stories of this guy much. Overwhelmingly most people think he did no wrong. It mirrored all the people who were going to such ridiculous lengths and creating conspiracy theories to defend Hans Reiser.

Re:Inflammatory summary, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164614)

$1.5 million fine. That's around 20 years of his salary

Just imagine how much Sony will have to pay for letting the PSN network go down! 20 years of profits?!

Re:Inflammatory summary, anyone? (1)

tifkap (1347517) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164622)

We shouldn't defend him. We should spit him out, and say that he's a shame to the profession. Everybody has had her/his fair share of mismanagement, but it's not up to us the determine what good or bad management is.

Re:Inflammatory summary, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164716)

Why should a person's salary limit their restitution for damages they cause? If I burn down a $20 million building, should I be limited to only having to pay back a portion of my salary? That does not make sense to me.

He cause the city to spent insane money as a result of his criminal actions. He should have to pay it back.

How is Childs being treated unfairly? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164318)

Certainly the management of San Francisco has some responsibility for what happened.

However, I disagree with the assessment that Terry Childs is without blame, as is implied in the article summary. If I hold hostages and demand ransom but later release the hostages, does that mean I did nothing wrong? While Childs didn't literally take hostages, figuratively that's exactly what he did.

The justification for making Childs pay restitution is that the city of San Francisco attempted other means of gaining control of the systems while Childs refused to cooperate. Those attempts cost some money, and that's money that would otherwise be billed to taxpayers.

Why should I feel that Childs is being treated unfairly? He had to know that if he fought those in power, they would find a way to take him down.

Re:How is Childs being treated unfairly? (2)

hesiod (111176) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164650)

He had to know that if he fought those in power, they would find a way to take him down.

So, "stop struggling, and take it up the ass like a good little victim" is your approach to government oppression?

(Note that I'm not saying he IS a victim, but that your reasoning there is morally offensive)

it's a malpractice insurance BONANZA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164368)

Sick of making a stinkin $60K/annum for 365/24/7 service? Well now you're a member of a ruling elite, concomitantly liable for millions in damages!

Now that you need a multimillion dollar bond, doesn't that make you feel underpaid?

This sends a much needed message. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164402)

That dereliction of duty, and violation of the public trust is not OK just because nothing bad happened. By that logic, these morons who fly passenger jetliners after imbibing should not be punished because they managed to get the plane down OK and didn't kill anyone.

This is yet another example of how public sector workers think that they are beyond reproach, and do not have to work to the same standards that the public sector does. He needs to understand his place and apparently he didn't, and now will have to pay.

Hopefully this serves as an example to other people who don't understand their position and think just because they have the keys to the office or the password to the server that they own the place. They are fungible and will be held accountable.

Never give any one admin that much power (2)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164414)

Lesson learned?

A better punishment would have been to make him perform community service where he has to work for free for a certain number of hours fixing people's networks and eliminating THEIR downtime. That might have been a better solution.

1.5 Million? (2)

Xacid (560407) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164452)

"it is difficult to understand how they came up in $1.5 million in costs"

Asshole tax?

Two entirely separate issues (5, Insightful)

goldspider (445116) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164504)

"...unless they're billing Terry Childs for the City's own failure to set up division of responsibility and standby emergency access procedures?"

What exactly is being insinuated here? That it's the City's fault that Childs decided to commit a crime?

Sorry, pal, it doesn't work that way. Yes, the city has a lot of work to do to clean up its IT policies, but that has no bearing whatsoever on Childs' decision to commit a criminal act.

A fine example of American justice (5, Interesting)

seniorcoder (586717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164508)

Terry Childs was clearly on an excessive one-man power trip. I don't think too many on /. think that deserves jail time though. A firing for unprofessional conduct: sure. A $1.5M fine? This just adds to the farce. I'm sure the head of the IMF will get a fair trial. He has already been convicted (by the media) and is in jail. ... now all we need to do is to get most of Wall Street in jail. They have been tried in the media but not put in jail.

How not to make friends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164516)

Honestly, hasn't this poor guy been strung out long enough? Why can't they give him some peace.

www.awkwardengineer.com [awkwardengineer.com]

Only on slashdot (1)

Overunderrated (1518503) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164522)

can you be guaranteed that illegal and full-on crazy actions by a sysadmin be ignored in place of ranting against his employer.

Disgrace to the profession (0)

SoothingMist (1517119) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164566)

In my personal opinion, it is a mistake for our profession to defend the likes of a person who carries out such an act. While the restitution is clearly beyond his means, his actions are just as clearly unconscionable. I have been in this profession for 35 years and still work at the technical level. We need to act with integrity and disassociate ourselves from such malpractitioners. Otherwise, our profession will fall under deep suspicion and eventually die.

nt (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164674)

He's already been crucified.

They're just casting lots for his robes.

Guilty of not having a competent lawyer (1)

spectro (80839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164678)

I can't figure out how this guy got convicted. He was an asshole and lacked common sense but 4 years in jail?, 1.5M? talk about "cruel or unusual punishment", 8th amendment anyone?

Are they appealing this case?, why is the EFF not involved?, this is the kind of case they should be looking at. This case sets the scary precedent that admins are criminally liable for the network they maintain.

willfull we'd., too much for just one guy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164680)

still waiting? more stand-up talknician routines. more threatening now? will the FSF guys be arrested for sex crimes too? julians, adrians, everybody's at risk, of being arrested, or worse. scary? 13 year old tagged by ss.gov at school for unapproved tweeting. so we're safe from him now. the key to the bells & whistles of just one city is way to much trust to put in one human. our/our planet's fate however, is different?

same old; how many 1000 babys going up in smoke again today? how many 1000's of just folks to be killed or displaced again today? hard to put $$ on that. the cost of constant deception, to our spirit? paying to have ourselves constantly spied on & lied to by freaky self chosen neogod depopulationers? the biblically styled fatal distraction holycost is all encompassing, & never ends while we're still alive, unless we cut them/ourselves off at the wmd. good luck with that, as it's not even a topic anywhere we get to see, although in real life it's happening everywhere as our walking dead weapons peddlers are being uncontracted. you can call this weather if it makes you feel any better. no? read the teepeeleaks etchings.

so, once one lie is 'infactated', the rest becomes just more errant fatal history.

disarm. tell the truth. the sky is not ours to toy with after all?

  you call this 'weather'? what with real history racing up to correct
itself, while the chosen one's holycostal life0cider mediots continually
attempt to rewrite it, fortunately, there's still only one version of the
truth, & it's usually not a long story, or a confusing multiple choice
fear raising event.

wouldn't this be a great time to investigate the genuine native elders social & political leadership initiative, which includes genuine history as put forth in the teepeeleaks etchings. the natives still have no words in their language to describe the events following their 'discovery' by us, way back when. they do advise that it's happening again.

who has all the weapons? who is doing MOST of the damage? what are the motives? are our intentions & will as the ones who are supposed to be being represented honestly & accurately, being met? we have no reference to there being ANY public approval for the current mayhem & madness pr firm regime style self chosen neogod rulership we've allowed to develop around us, so we wouldn't have to stop having fun, & doing things that have nothing to do with having to defend from the smoke&mirrors domestic frenetics, of the unproven genocides. rockets exploding in syria fired from Libya? yikes?

  the zeus weather weapon is still being used indiscriminately against the population, our rulers' minions are fleeing under fire.

the whore of babylon has been rescued by the native elders. she has the papers of challenge authored by the hymenical council, & is cooperating wholeheartedly with the disarmament mandate.
disarm. thank you.

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Justice... has been served? (0)

tekrat (242117) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164714)

Meanwhile the former Governator admits that he fathered a child out of wedlock while on the payroll of the state. This is *while* he was railing against Gay Marriage because it would harm the "sanctity" of marriage.

Good job there dude. And will any charges be brought against him? Nope. It won't even affect his attempt at restarting his movie career. Just another day in Hollywoodland.

Meanwhile, Terry Childs is fined $1.5 mill for acting like a douche AND is spending 4 years in jail.

How much you want to bet that if he was a rich and famous dude, he wouldn't be spending one day in jail? Why is it that we live in a "free" and "equal" country where there's one set of laws for the wealthy and powerful, and another set of laws for the commoners?

Typical IT attitude - makes all of us look bad (1)

ErichTheRed (39327) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164796)

Disclaimer: I'm a systems engineer who spent many years as an admin. I don't do as much daily firefighting as I used to, but I sure have tons of experience in that department.

How many of you (good natured) IT folk looked at the Terry Childs case and said, "Hey, that sounds like X, the total jerk I used to work with!" I know I did... We had a guy like this who (a) did the passive-aggressive thing when asked to take care of something, (b) kept all the secrets in his head so that it would be hard for anyone to take over, and (c) got fired because management/staff had finally had enough of him and decided it would be worth it to just get a consultant in to put everything right.

Stories like this, and unfortunate stereotypes, are what keep IT work "in the basement" and prevent us from being recognized as professionals, IMO. We don't get respect from the MBA crowd because we can't justify our existence...but I think we could change that by changing the typical attitude.

Obviously, most IT people aren't like Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons, but those who are sure make it hard for the rest of us.

Now that computers are totally pervasive, maybe it's time to set some standards and get the various branches of IT work (development, network admin, systems admin, etc.) recognized as professions. At least there would be some kind of code of conduct and minimum education standard so employers would be sure of what they're getting.

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