The Techie Hall of Shame

The Techie Hall of Shame

Summary: A SFGate story began this week with the all-too-familiar line--"A disgruntled computer engineer..." before going on to list the disgrace of the day, in this case virtually commandeering San Francisco's new multimillion-dollar computer network and hacking it to deny access to top administrators.


A SFGate story began this week with the all-too-familiar line--"A disgruntled computer engineer..." before going on to list the disgrace of the day, in this case virtually commandeering San Francisco's new multimillion-dollar computer network and hacking it to deny access to top administrators. He's now locked up with a $5 million bail.

As always, there was a kicker: The 43-year-old Pittsburgh resident, Terry Childs, created an exclusive system password for himself. When the police demanded it, he gave them one that didn't work. When they threatened him with arrest, he still refused to divulge the correct password.

With this, Childs joins the IT Grind's newly-unveiled Techie Hall of Shame, joining the ranks of five others that share the dishonor of giving good IT pros a bad rap not only in the media, but with the FBI, which estimates that about 70 percent of all computer security breaches are perpetuated by internal hackers, a.k.a. "normal employees."

John Paul Oson Crime: Convicted last month of two charges of intentionally damaging computers in Southern California's Council of Community Health Clinic in December 2005, disabling the automatic backup process and deleting data and software from the company's servers.

The kicker: Authorities said he'd recently resigned after receiving a performance review "he perceived as negative"--as in, it sounds like the people who wrote it didn't think it was so bad.

Kenneth Kwak Crime: A former Department of Education network security specialist, Kwak was sentenced to five months in prison, a $40,000 fine and five months of home monitoring in March 2006 for putting spyware on his boss's computer.

The kicker: In his plea, Kwak said he'd used the spyware to read his boss's email and other inter-office communcations, not for profit, but to gossip with others in his office.

Yung-Hsun Lin Crime: The former systems administrator for Medco Health Solutions in Franklin Lakes, NJ planted a logic bomb in October 2003, which--had it not been discovered--could have wiped out such databases as the one that tracked patient-specific drug interaction conflicts.

The kicker: After his company was spun off from another in 2003, Lin was fearful that he'd be laid off. But even after he survived a round of layoffs, he kept the logic bomb in place, and even tinkered with it, setting it to go off on his birthday in 2004, knowing full well it could be easily traced back to him.

Roger Duronio Crime: The former UBS PaineWebber systems administrator in New Jersey was sentenced to eight-plus years in prison and to pay $3.1 million in fines for detonating a logic bomb that caused millions of dollars in damange to the brokerage's computer network in 2002 as some offices could not make trades for weeks.

The kicker: At his trial, witnesses testified that Duronio was angry because he didn't receive as large of an annual bonus as he'd expected. He'd quit a few weeks before his bomb went off.

Alan Giang Tran Crime: The former network administrator at the Airline Coach Service and Sky Limousine Company in California was arrested in February 2003 for hacking into his company's computer system and wiping out critical data shortly after his termination.

The kicker: While the damage wrought by Tran's meddling--thousands of dollars lost because drivers couldn't pick up passengers--was small by comparative accounts, the case details were like something out of the least suspenseful crime novel, ever: when the Feds searched his home, they found several computers with information regarding the company's computer systems in a file folder marked "retaliation."

Any other noteworthy "disgruntled IT pros" I should be adding to the list? Sadly, there are so many to choose from.

Topics: CXO, Hardware, Networking, Security

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • The Florida architectural firm rampage
  • RE: The Techie Hall of Shame

    Sounds like a lot of these people need to have a psychological profile done on them before they are hired for a position.
    • If only!

      If only those "psychological profiles" were good for it! But most of them are worthless. Even worse, they are administered and interpreted by HR flunkies who think they know something about psychology, but weren't good enough to actually get licensed as a psychologist.

      So that is no solution.
  • At least techies don't go on shooting sprees

    The good news is, techies don't go on shooting sprees. If you have to have to pick, most people would probably prefer a harmless network problem over a shooting spree.
    • techies don't go on shooting sprees

      Since SP3 on XP-Pro I believe Gate and Gang should also be jailed, between SP3 and Secutiry Patch KB951748 I and many more are forced to do a complete reinstall does not work to kill the whoes
      • Put that somewhere else

        What are you 12? What does that have to do w/ the story or even the first comment?
      • whoes? whatza "whoes"?

        What's a "whoes"?

        I thank Dog for Bill Gates.. he's kept me employed for over 20 years now. If he had a perfect OS a lot of us would be on the streets holding a cup full of pencils, and "brother can you spare a dime?" signs.

        Believe it or not - problematical software (or even problematical people, which is good for you) aren't illegal and that isn't a grounds for sending someone to jail. But - dream on.. whatever you're on must be pretty good stuff.
    • Some do...

      "A software tester at an Internet consulting company here came to work as usual today, talked with his co-workers and then, the authorities said, took out a semiautomatic rifle and a shotgun and killed seven of them." [2000: Edgewater Technology, Wakefield, MA]

      It was not a technology problem that spurred the event though.
      • Michael McDermott

        We were hiring at the time of this, and I had Michael McDermott's resume sitting on my desk when the news broke. Glad we hadn't gotten around to hiring yet.
    • Oh, but they do!

      Google "farley ESL defense contractor" and read it for yourself.
    • Reiser killed his wife. [nt]

  • RE: The Techie Hall of Shame

    I worked for a place that suddenly had the payroll run crash. When it did, all the files were wiped off the system. After restoring and having the same thing happen again, we looked at the program source change date and found it didn't match the compile date of the program running. We saved a copy of the program object, recompiled and ran payroll without a hitch.

    Out of curiosity, we decompiled the offending program, and found that a former programmer had placed a code bomb in the program that said if the current social security number read was greater than his social security number and his had not been read, delete all the payroll files. We did fine until the year-end close which removed his record from the live employee master.

    I really do HATE programmers that have no ethics. :(
    • Yeah!

      They are almost as bad as managers who have no ethics!
  • RE: The Techie Hall of Shame =(Stupidity)

    For God's sake, is that the best you can do. There are hundreds of us who have stolen vast sums from our companies and either not been caught or only been terminated without criminal action or restitution because the company didn't want the public to know what had happened.

    This list is not a "Hall of Shame". It is, in fact, a Hall of STUPIDITY. If I was going to attack my employer, either before or after some event. No one would ever know it was me. The need to be recognized is the reason there are so few "perfect crimes. "Retaliation" indeed.
    • So True...

      They are the dumb ones. The ones the Darwin process wipes out..
      • The Hall Of Worthless Employees

        Deleting or destroying your employers data is childish and unethical; whether you get caught or not. The real stupidity was not getting caught, it was committing such an act in the first place.
    • Hall of Shame =(Stupidity)

      Looks Like you have put some thought into it!
    • I have to agree - this is more like "hall of dysfunctional personalities"

      Calling these guys "techies" is an insult to the term "techie" - a real coder wouldn't have been caught.

      I prefer letting unethical former employers crash and burn by their own efforts - it was satisfying to see one real bastard wind up on after he screwed a number of us (who had built his business up for him from tech startup to doing multiple millions/year). We didn't NEED to retaliate - this guy's own dodgy business practices (such as not making contributions to workers' compensation as state law provided) caught up with him, with no help at all from anyone else.
    • Which companies?

      Which companies did you work for? They might find this post very interesting;)
  • really dumb things to do . . .

    by people I'd think are pretty bright.
    Maybe these dopes fit into the mold of "socially incompetent". The IT-types who smell bad, dress poorly, and are dislikable people.
    I'm sure they will learn some very special social skills in prison!!