San Francisco hunts for mystery device on city network

By | September 11, 2008

San Francisco hunts for mystery device on city network

With costs related to a rogue network administrator’s hijacking of the city’s network now estimated at $1 million, city officials say they are searching for a mysterious networking device hidden somewhere on the network. The device, referred to as a “terminal server” in court documents, appears to be a router that was installed to provide remote access to the city’s Fiber WAN network, which connects municipal computer and telecommunication systems throughout the city. City officials haven’t been able to log in to the device, however, because they do not have the username and password. In fact, the city’s Department of Telecommunications and Information Services (DTIS) isn’t even certain where the device is located, court filings state.

The router was discovered on Aug. 28. When investigators attempted to log in to the device, they were greeted with what appears to be a router login prompt and a warning message saying “This system is the personal property of Terry S. Childs,” according to a screenshot of the prompt filed by the prosecution.

The disclosure is the latest turn in a bizarre story that has made headlines in San Francisco for the past two months. Childs, a network administrator with DTIS, was arrested June 12 on charges of network tampering after he refused to provide his superiors with administrative access to the city of San Francisco’s network, which he had managed for the past five years.

Initially Childs refused to hand over administrative passwords to the city’s routers, which had been configured to wipe out all configuration information if they were reset.

After a dramatic jailhouse meeting with San Francisco’s mayor one week after his arrest, Childs handed over the data, but DTIS Chief Administrative Officer Ron Vinson said Wednesday that the city now expects to spend more than $1 million to clean up the mess. – infoworld

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