City Employee Allegedly Tampers With San Francisco Computer Network

San Francisco officials were trying to determine Tuesday why a disgruntled computer engineer working for the city apparently seized control of a new multimillion-dollar computer system.

Terry Childs, 43, was arrested Sunday on four charges of computer tampering. Authorities said the Department of Telecommunications and Information Services employee created a password that gave him exclusive access to the city's new FiberWAN (Wide Area Network), which stores such records as officials' e-mails, city payroll files, confidential law enforcement documents and jail bookings.

At a court appearance Tuesday, Childs' arraignment was rescheduled until Thursday to give his defense attorney a chance to speak with him, FOX affiliate KTVU-TV reports.

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Officials told the San Francisco Chronicle that they fear Childs might have enabled a third party to access the system in order to destroy hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents while he sits in jail on a $5 million bond.

Childs' defense attorney Mark Jacobs told KTVU-TV that the bond was excessive.

“There’s someone out there that’s really scared of something, and I don’t know what it is,” Jacobs said.

An official speaking on the condition of anonymity told the paper that Childs had been disciplined for poor performance in recent months and that higher-ups wanted him fired.

"They weren't able to do it," the official told the paper. "This was kind of his insurance policy."

City officials said damage is still being assessed, but authorities said undoing his denial of access to other system administrators could cost the city millions of dollars.

"Right now our system is up and running and we haven't had any problems so far," Ron Vinson, chief administrative officer for the Department of Technology, told the paper.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Click here to read the full San Francisco Chronicle report.