Prosecutors said these modems provided illegal access to the city's network, but in court filings, Childs' lawyer says they were used for work. One was set up to dial out to Childs' pager any time a problem popped up on the city's network. The second was a DSL modem that had been set up even before Childs was hired at DTIS, used to connect to the Internet and test access to the city's network. The third was for emergency use only, designed to connect city computers to a disaster recovery site so that the city's network could be up and running in the event of an emergency.
"The existence, use and nature of modems are within the scope of the employment of a network engineer," his attorney argues in court filings.
Childs may have felt justified in refusing to hand over the passwords to strangers, but obviously something happened to lead up to the tense July 9 showdown, said Bruce Schneier, a noted computer security expert and chief security technology officer with BT. "That's not a normal day at the office," he said. "It does seem strange. It feels like there is more to the story than we know."
"The passwords are owned by the city, so as an employee he's obligated to give them up to his boss," Schneier added.
If he had to do it all over again, that's exactly what Terry Childs would do. "I'd have gotten out before it came to this," he said last week. "I have a great house ... and I'm on the verge of losing it since I'm in here. I'm out of a job, and don't know what'll happen with all this."
Childs' lawyer has moved that the charges against him be dropped. A hearing on that motion is set for Feb. 27.
InfoWorld's Paul Venezia contributed to this story.