Media still not getting it right in Childs case

The San Francisco Chronicle ran a story today on Mayor Newsom's intervention in the Terry Childs case. Unfortunately, they continued the spate of inaccuracies surrounding this case: "But there was a snag, Ballard said - the code that Childs supplied to Newsom didn't function immediately. Newsom had to call back the attorney, who provided more information, and the system started working, officials say." It's reas

The San Francisco Chronicle ran a story today on Mayor Newsom's intervention in the Terry Childs case. Unfortunately, they continued the spate of inaccuracies surrounding this case:

"But there was a snag, Ballard said - the code that Childs supplied to Newsom didn't function immediately. Newsom had to call back the attorney, who provided more information, and the system started working, officials say."

It's reasonably likely that the reason it didn't immediately work was that there were ACLs on the vty consoles for each router, and they had to telnet/ssh in from a specific subnet. But I think it should be made perfectly clear that the system was always working. Nowhere have I read that network was anything less than fully operational throughout this event. All that occurred here was some clarification on the necessary requirements to access the router and switch consoles. It has no bearing on the normal operation of the network, the data, applications, or services provided by that network.

Perhaps the best way to describe this whole thing is to imagine that the city hired an engineer to build a very high-powered engine for a car. When the engineer was finished, he looked around and felt that nobody else had the requisite knowledge to maintain the normal operation of the engine, so in order to make sure nobody messed with it, he locked the hood and kept the only key. The car would continue to be fully operational, but only he would be able to access the engine compartment. What Newsom did, then, was to get the key to unlock the hood, and had to call back to get more information on how to use the key.

This is a very, very important distinction.

[ Follow the Terry Childs saga with InfoWorld special report: Terry Childs: Admin gone rogue. ]

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