LAKE WORTH, FL -- When a computer expert like Howard Jordan says he's concerned about security at Lake Worth Utilities, how should the rest of us feel?
"Does this alarm you?" he's asked.
"Yes it does. It scares me," he says.
Earlier this year, Jordan and Lake Worth Utilities Engineering Director Andres Reyes wanted to update the computer language the mainframe system used to communicate.
They set up a test computer, separate from the mainframe.
On two different occasions they say someone hooked up their test computer to the city's main power system.
Two computers, speaking different languages, were talking to each other and the men say it could have crashed the power grid.
"The least damage would be losing communication with the city as far as knowing what's happening in the electric grid. Worst case scenario we could have had a problem that cascaded the main grid of the state of Florida," says Jordan.
Neither man knows why someone would have hooked up the computer without their knowledge. They say on the second occasion valuable data was deleted from the system.
They also say that if the mainframe were crashed an outsider could have access to the grid.
"So theoretically someone else could have taken control of the power system?" he's asked.
"Theoretically someone else could have," says Jordan.
The men also say the security in the building is a risk.
There is a common secure entry point, but after that, they say roughly thirty employees can access any room inside the building, including the computer system.
Also everyone uses a common password, the employees say, so there is no tracking who used what computer and what was viewed.
The men tried to change that policy.
"That request? What happened to it?" Jordan was asked.
"It was denied," says Jordan.
The Utility Director, Rebecca Mattey, says there was never a security breach. She would not discuss security at the building.
Reyes says he has been questioned by the FBI about this issue. Mattey says the feds have not intervened.
Reyes was previously fired over this issue, but then rehired because of his work record.
Now Jordan also fears his job is in jeopardy, and both men believe there is a cover-up to try and keep this secret.
Tuesday night the two said they had no choice but to take this to the Lake Worth City Commission.
"We can no longer hide our head in the sand about this and terminate everyone that raises the issue," Jordan told commissioners.
The Lake Worth City Manager, Susan Stanton, issued a statement an hour before the meeting stating there had been no security breach. Nonetheless, she told commissioners she would look into the matter.
"It would probably be appropriate to bring in a third party to investigate the very significant allegations of two significant employees," says Stanton.
So, what's going on inside Lake Worth Utilities?
Are these two just disgruntled employees looking to cause a public ruckus?
Or are these two men, their jobs now possibly in jeopardy, talking about something somebody just doesn't want to hear?
"My main concern is to make sure this doesn't happen again," says Jordan.
"But it could?" he is asked.
Copyright 2009 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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