back to article Electrical supe charged with damaging California canal system

A former employee for a federally-owned canal system in California was charged with installing software that damaged a computer used to divert water out of a local river. Michael Keehn, of Willows, California, faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Federal court documents claim the former electrical …


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  1. HeavyLight

    Poor old fella

    He's a genuine hacker who's saved the company millions of dollars building the systems he's supposed to have 'destroyed'.

    And he reckons he could fix the problem in two hours!

    Instead he's harassed by a SWAT team and threatened with jail.


  2. ian
    Paris Hilton


    This article is amazingly uninformative. It appears that the poor fellow was sacked instantly upon installing the software in question. If it was Vista he installed, then the blighter deserved it, but Vista takes so long to install he couldn't have been sacked the same day. Otherwise, where is the due process and investigation that a 17-year veteran is due.

    More data, please!

    The PH avatar is attached to protest the shallowness of the reporting.

  3. Aubry Thonon


    "intentionally caused damage without authorization to a protected computer"

    You mean there *is* a process to get authorisation to cause damage to a protect computer?

    The mind boggles - you'd think they'd remove whatever required the computer to be classed as "protected" before causing damage to it, even officially.

    Coat? Who needs a coat?

  4. Anonymous Coward

    SCADA security

    How about the security of SCADA systems that are running on unsupported, obsolete operating systems?

    A certain large UK water company decided to replace it's dependable VMS/OS2 based system with one based on NT4. Ostensibly, one of the reasons for this was to avoid the Y2K bug, though there was no evidence that the previous system was vulnerable to Y2K issues. The chosen platform was native to Unix, but said company's IT PHBs insisted a Windows version be developed at great expense.

    After sinking huge amounts of money into it, commissioning of the (barely functional) system finished in 2004, less than a year before NT4 support ended. It's still running on it now. (and still barely functional)

  5. Tuomo Stauffer

    Interesting story

    Yeah, never, ever give any passwords or so without a written and signed paper. I have been there and denied, it did go up to CEO who said I was right. Now, of course, it came impossible to work with the manager any more but that's another story. This smells and not just a little because if he would have done anything on purpose (IMHO) it would not have been plain and clear or easy to detect, it was his system.

  6. Bill L

    The Man Caused More Than $50000 Dollars in Damages

    So, of course we'll need to spend $100k to convict him and maybe even more than that to hold him for a few years and monitor him for more to make sure he doesn't get near any canals.

    I wonder if possession of a bottle of water will be something that will send him back to jail.

    You'll never take me alive, coppers!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    intentionally caused damage

    ""intentionally caused damage without authorization to a protected computer"

    You mean there *is* a process to get authorisation to cause damage to a protect computer?"

    Yes, of course there is.

    I've given authorisation to an IT support person to take out some hard drives and hit them with a hammer.

    I have also asked "intentionally caused damage" as part of testing schedules.

    All that porn they found on my laptop was also part of my testing schedules...I just forgot to get authorisation for those ones, oops.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    water a valuable commodity

    the Romans had problems with their aqueducts too:*.html

    should you prefer to read our Sextus Julius in the original latin, it's here:*.html

  9. Anonymous John


    Can we have this word banned too. It's just as bad as "mobe".

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It's not an avatar. When did the word avatar enter the common lexicon? In such a way that it's constantly misused?

  11. P. Kelsay

    @anon re: @ian

    It's not an avatar - it's an "avvie", just like the recent need for "mobe" and "supe". Come on, now.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    You say avatar...

    ...I say emoticon.

    An avatar is meant to be representative in some way of you.

    The icons available for tagging to comments are meant to represent your mood or emotions.

    You are not your mood, no matter how New Age you are. Emo kid ;-) .

  13. CBarn

    What exactly did he do?

    I don't see any reference in either this article or in the linked article to what he actually did to cause harm. The linked article is more informative - it sounds an awful lot like his super was simply out to get him.

    Shame on them if they didn't have a backup and recovery plan in place - what if this poor guy had gotten hit by a bus or accidentally drowned in his own canal system?

  14. ian

    @AC, @P. Kelsay

    When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    being a CA government employee myself

    this stinks. I don't hold this guy 100% blameless, tho it is pretty obvious he was getting the shaft politically within his organization. Looks like he tried to make a situation to prove he was "the Man" and get some status returned-and got caught. Then when it gets out there's some problems in the nice Democrat controlled government system, they need to make sure the old white guy is the "Bad Guy" and start running up the charges in best Clintonesque practice. One of my favorite Old White Guys here a the office, last of the old-school gurus, has been on the end of such things twice in the last six years and managed to only lose professional status simply because he was paranoid enough to hold records before the assaults on his professional status began. They attacked four other people (with full Union backing) who didn't have the longevity and managed to sack one of them simply to try to build a bulletproof case against him-seems losing the last time had cost this office and the Union a decent sum when discrimination was proved.

    They've been probably trying to get the this old guy out to hose him out of his full retirement and bennies, making room for some new kid who happens to fit a few "protected" classes for "affirmative action".

  16. Chris C

    re: @ian

    AVATAR? Last I knew, AVATAR was a way of controlling a text terminal (positioning, colors, etc), much like ANSI. But that was a long time ago in a galaxy far away. What those guys could do with ANSI art was truly amazing.

  17. ian

    @Chris C

    Re:"Last I knew, AVATAR was a way of controlling a text terminal (positioning, colors, etc), much like ANSI."

    This is a new definition for me, but googling the word brings up a range of similar acronyms. I used the word in the sense that it originally had: an incarnation of the divine Paris Hilton, goddess of superficiality who has attained multi-talented mastery in the Supracosmic Sphere.


  18. The Other Steve
    Thumb Up

    "He'd had a few beers he says"


    “I’m certain I did something to cause it,” Mr. Keehn says, but he’s not entirely sure.

    He’d had a few beers he says.


    Well then, tough shit. You don't fuck with critical infrastructure after you've "had a few beers". In fact, during the working day, if you're a systems engineer, you just don't, ever, have a few beers.

    I can't help noticing that as well as this, the linked article describes him as "computer genius and conservative thinker", I may be adding two and two and coming up with the wrong answer, but frankly I'm reading all this as "Arrogant, drunken, bigoted jesus freak sacked for working on systems while tanked."

    In which case good riddance.

    YMMV, perhaps there's some definition of "conservative thinker" that I'm not aware of.

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