Extortion in the Digital Age

By Jordan Robertson - 2012-09-07T22:30:48Z

Photograph by Cindy Chew/AP Photos

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Holding S.F.'s Network Hostage

A San Francisco city employee was so desperate to save his job as a network technician that he hijacked the city's computers and held them hostage to protest his reassignment in 2008. Terry Childs was being transferred because of conflicts with management when he locked out his supervisors by withholding network passwords, prosecutors said. Childs's move was described by prosecutors as a "power play" to turn the city's network into a "pawn" in his feud with management. He gave up his fight after a high-profile intervention: Then-Mayor Gavin Newsom paid a visit to Childs in jail and left with the passwords. Childs was sentenced to four years in prison.