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"IT Support Stamford" | "Tech Support"

7/29/ 2002 - Technology Company Jumps Into Security Arena

Reprinted from the front page of the July 29, 2002 issue

Jul 29, 2002

Barry Moniês, president and chief executive officer of Computronix L.L.C., a Stamford information technology company, moves deftly around his office speaking in sound bites about the potential for terrorists hacking into the nation's computer systems.

"Five years ago there was a rush to get everyone online, and we forgot about security," Moniês said. But now, Al Qaeda "is hacking into our systems."

Moniês throws out a litany of spine-chilling possibilities — terrorists hacking into municipal computers to upset the water and sewer systems, or into the system that controls the Hoover Dam.

"They found out that Al Qaeda were looking at soil grades around the towns near the Hoover Dam," he said of the FBI investigating the terrorists. "They wanted to see if they let the dam loose, the best way to let the water flow to cause flooding."

While Moniês' vigor for the reality of the current times may seem off putting, for him, it's business related. Hackers are getting into and threatening companies — their data, customers and money, Moniês said, citing a study by the Computer Security Institute in San Francisco.

The study involving 503 companies found that 80 percent reported a loss of nearly $500 million as a result of breaches in security.

In 1999, Computronix, located in The Stamford Technology Center of which Moniês is part owner, began working on a monitoring system for small to mid-sized businesses to protect their assets. That effort has branched out into CSSI, which currently monitors several companies that handle transactions totaling $4 billion.

Moniês began marketing the company's services on the coattails of Sony Electronics. In March, Computronix announced its new monitoring service to customers nationwide purchasing Sony's StorStation, a data storage system.

In June, Moniês was invited to Washington, D.C., by Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Bridgeport, chairman of the House subcommittee on national security, for a conference on "Private Technologies for Homeland Security."

Barbara Belon, director of the Center for Information Technology at Norwalk Community College, said Computronix' leap into security information technology is timely. "They have the expertise and they made the investment," she said.

Cyber WarSitting in the basement of his Stamford office, Moniês demonstrates how easy it is to open portals on the Internet and randomly pick out computers to attack because they have no firewall protection.

"All of the green lights here means there is an open connection," he says, referring to the circles next to the web addresses on the screen.

Moniês said that while most companies have firewalls, 97 percent have been installed incorrectly or have not been updated enough to protect the company.

Moniês wants to be the IT security outsource for small and medium-sized companies, but his market may be larger. Belon, head of the newly formed Norwalk Security Institute at the community college, said hackers can use smaller companies to get into larger ones.

"It's the interconnectedness," she said. "Small businesses become larger businesses' partners. Size really doesn't matter anymore. If you can get into a small company, you can get into a large one."

Moniês sits on the college's IT advisory committee.

Moniês runs the company with Gleason Greene, chairman, who retired with 33 years of experience as a technology analyst at IBM Corp.

Mark Pruner, president of Web Counsel L.L.C. in Stamford, said security of this nature even for small-to medium-sized companies in Fairfield and Westchester, N.Y. counties has become a necessity.

"It's one of those things that has become very important for this area," Pruner said. "This is where you have a very high concentration of knowledge workers as well as financial institutions. We have consultants, marketers and advertisers. All those companies do business on computers, so if they lose their computer systems, they don't have a business."

Pruner said it's especially important for e-commerce companies to consider a security system. He also said that with the constant expansion of the World Wide Web, problems have increased.

"There are a lot more access points now," he said. "It used to be that there was only one place where it came in. Nowadays threats can come from anywhere."

Moniês realizes this and hopes to get the word out to small companies to protect themselves. During his visit to Washington, he told Congress that the entrepreneur and the small businessman need the government's help, and that private industry will need to work with local municipalities to protect computer networks.

"One of the things we have being on the front lines is that we've developed knowledge on how to deal day to day with this," he said. "We can help secure companies who work for the government in sharing of information. That's what we're looking to protect."


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