Network admin Terry Childs gets 4-year sentence

He was convicted of criminal charges after refusing to hand over passwords

A City of San Francisco administrator who refused to hand over administrative passwords to the city's network was sentenced to four years in state prison Friday.

Terry Childs was convicted in April of violating California's hacking laws after he refused to hand over administrative control to the city's FiberWAN network in July 2008.

He was sentenced Friday by Judge Teri Jackson, according to Erica Derryck, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco district attorney's office.

Although the city's network continued to run during the 12 days that Childs refused to hand over control, jurors found that by denying the city the administrative control to its own network, he had violated state law.

Childs defended his actions during a long court trial, saying that he was only doing his job, and that his supervisor, Department of Technology and Information Services Chief Operations Officer Richard Robinson, was unqualified to have access to the passwords. Childs eventually handed over the passwords to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Prosecutors characterized the former network administrator as a power hungry control freak who couldn't be managed.

His attorney, Richard Shikman, disagreed, saying that Childs is a "man of great character."

"He clearly is not a hacker. The state's case is based on a theory which needs to be tested on appeal," he said via e-mail. "The case stands as a metaphor for both human folly and human achievement."

Childs has already served 755 days in county jail, Derryck said.

That time served will be applied to his sentence, so Childs could be paroled within the next four to six months. He had faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Childs may also have to cover the city's US$900,000 bill, spent on trying to regain control of its network. A hearing on financial penalties is set for August 13.

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert's e-mail address is

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags business issuespersonnelterry childssecurityCity of San Franciscolegalgovernmentcybercrimeprison

More about etworkIDG

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Robert McMillan

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place