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Lilfe in the Fast Lane
These articles by Peter J. Mladineo and Barbara Fox were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on July 8, 1998. All rights reserved.
Imagine this: You're surfing the Web one night and a few strange things are happening beyond the ken of your perception: Your modem is flashing a little more than usual, and your hard disk is crackling more busily. These events may not trigger alarm bells but unbeknownst to you a hacker in Albuquerque is infiltrating your system from the Internet and is busily copying files from your computer. Who knows what he'll get -- the love letter to your mistress, your resume, your credit card numbers, the secret to Coca-Cola, or a copy of your will.
And according to Michael Paris, president of the Florid-based ByteTight Computer Security Corp., any or all of those files are just waiting to be stolen because of a major Internet security chasm big enough to fit the asteroid from "Armageddon." Any system that uses Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows NT, Paris claims, is vulnerable any time it is connected to the Internet through the TCP/IP protocol. "Anybody who understands anything about networking knows that this should take place," he says. "Anybody who has a LAN, they're hackable. Once you connect to a network, people on that network have access to your computers. I think there's been a very large lack of communication in this area."
Paris' company, based in Tampa, Florida, is selling a $99 software package that offers a plug for this hole. It issued a press release explaining the danger to 2,000 papers across the country, including U.S. 1.
"When a user logs on to the Internet," says the release, "they're logging on to a wide area network. Once they log on, the users are vulnerable to hackers on the Internet. These hackers can simply go right into the user's computer with one Windows command."
The command ("" followed by the computers Internet protocol number), allows the hacker's computer to infiltrate another computer that uses the common TCP/IP protocol. through its port 139. "If you're on the Internet port 139 has to be open," Paris explains. "You just can't turn off port 139."
Paris also claims that there's no way to monitor port 139, "because it's used too rapidly," he says.
What's worse is that hackers have devised a software program that can mass-exploit this hole. This program, now posted on Root Shell, a major hacker website, enables a computer to randomly find and infiltrate computers en masse. "You'll have 20 of these open up on your desktop," says Paris. "Then if you click on one of the folders it takes you into one of the drives."
Microsoft adamantly denies Paris' claim. "It's neither a bug nor a security issue with Microsoft software," says Karan Khanna, product manager of Windows NT security team in Redmond, Washington. Security administrators, he explains, determine which ports will be protected by firewalls. "There's nothing specific about port 139," he says. "Opening a port does not open up any holes at all, it's really up to the network administrator. Both of these claims are completely without merit."
Edward Felten, a computer science professor at Princeton and the head of its Safe Internet Programming Group, had his doubts about the solicitous nature of Paris' press release, but didn't dismiss the severity of the problem. "It's not completely implausible," says Felten. "Port 139 is the Windows networking-related port, so it does make sense that it would be listening when you're using a network. But I don't know about the specific bug."
Is Paris a entrepreneur with a moneymaking idea or is he genuinely concerned about alerting the Web world about a problem? "It could be both," says Felten.
ByteTight's product, HackerProof 98, monitors port 139 and enables the user to limit what incoming traffic is allowed into the computer. Its website, http://www.hackerproof98.com, will also have a demo that shows what it's like to hack someone else's computer, "without committing a class two felony," says Paris.
-- Peter J. Mladineo
BelAir Partners, an investment banking firm that specializes in mergers and acquisitions in the automotive sector, opened in Montgomery Commons. Sheldon Sandler, the managing director, is a often-quoted source on automotive consolidation in the country.
"We're not in Princeton for any other reason than my convenience," says Sandler, who has lived in the area for 12 years with his wife Deborah Sandler, the outgoing general director of the Opera Festival of New Jersey. "My biggest client is in Los Angeles, another big client is in Detroit. Our strongest client relationships are in Texas and Florida, maybe New Jersey, but it's just serendipitous if it happens to be New Jersey."
Remote as it is, there is a possibility that BelAir Partners might someday have clients in the area. "We are in touch with the major player in the corridor," says Sandler. "It's just coincidental that part of their interest happened to be here."
Pharmacopeia has closed its administrative office at 101 College Road East and expanded its two other locations, 3000 Eastpark Boulevard, Cranbury, and 2000 Cornwall Road, Monmouth Junction. All told, Pharmacopeia occupies 170,000 square feet of space at both locations and has 235 employees working in the greater Princeton area.
In June Pharmacopeia completed the acquisition of Molecular Simulations, a San Diego-based computational chemistry firm, with 350 employees (June 17).
The 179-person law firm has opened a service office at 329 Princeton-Hightstown Road. Albert M. Stark will be the first in the rotation to actually work at this office, called "At the Windsors" a title that describes the location between East Windsor and West Windsor. David R. Cohen will also be on the summer shift with Stark, and permanent full-time legal assistants here are Lisa Williams and Bob Zulisky. Clients can schedule attorney sessions by appointment, including at early morning, evening, and weekend times.
What is billed as a "state-of-the-art" video conference room can be used for clients at the satellite office to communicate with the attorneys, paralegals, and staff at the main office on Lenox Drive.
Pamela J. Dempsey, president of the temporary and permanent placement agency, has opened a second office in Somerset County at the corner of Raider Boulevard and Route 206. Ann McCracken is the manager of the new branch.
Morgan Mercedes is a division of the Placers, a wholly-owned subsidiary of AccuStaff, which bought the Princeton Junction-based firm in January so that it could expand in Central and South Jersey. She also plans to open offices in Cherry Hill and Freehold. "We're expanding like crazy," says Dempsey.
When AccuStaff went public two weeks ago on the New York Stock Exchange it divided into two groups: Modis (for accounting and information technology personnel) and Strategics (for clerical and other office workers). Morgan Mercedes is part of the Strategics group.
The campaign to elect Holt to Congress has moved to the former headquarters for Princeton Nursery on Mapleton Road and has a new phone and fax. The mailing address remains Box 782, Pennington 08534.
Marian R. Conte, a 1972 graduate of Rider University, has been made a full partner and senior vice president in the 29-year-old family-owned real estate business. "I hired her out of college and she stayed with us for 25 years," says Vincent DiDonato, co-owner with his wife, Grace.
The DiDonatos have two sons and a daughter but they are occupied in other businesses. George has a mortgage company, Vincent is a builder, and Denise DiDonato Meinster is an investment banker at American Express. "We'll build you a house, finance it, and if you have a little money left over we'll invest it for you. And if you still have money left over, we'll pick out a nice dinner," quips the father referring to the restaurant that his wife and son-in-law own in the Chambersburg section of Trenton, Marsilio's.
Am-Re Global Services is the new subsidiary of American Re Corporation that will coordinate various services -- reinsurance and retail insurance brokering, captive and risk management, and insurance and reinsurance consulting -- of American Re and Munich Re. Officers of the subsidiary will be Mahmoud Abdallah (chairman and CEO), David Carlson (vice chairman), and Richard Delaney (vice chairman). Within Am-RE Global Services will be the Becher + Carlson Companies, Am-Re Brokers Inc., ARB International Inc., and Am-Re Consultants.
"We believe that by consolidating these companies under one management structure we will create significant opportunities that would not have been realized by these companies on a stand-alone basis," says Edward Noonan, president and CEO of American Re.
The Munich Re Group, to which American Re belongs, is based in Germany and with more than 60 locations is the leading reinsurance group in the world. American Re is one of two largest writers of property and casualty reinsurance in the United States.
The privately-held reinsurance firm closed its 3,600 square foot office in Cranbury. Calls are being taken at the Manhattan headquarters by Sal Margarella. Founded in 1987, Somerset Re Management moved to New Jersey in 1990. It is the managing agent and reinsurance writer for its major client, Navigators Insurance Co., which is owned by the publicly held, New York-based Navigators Group. The former controller and branch manager are no longer with the firm.
After three years in business, the "deep discount" travel agency has been reported to have vacated its Princeton Service Center quarters. The phone has been disconnected.
Emergent Financial officially shut down this office in mid May, and Raccosta is scheduled to open a sales office for the CIT Group as of July 1 at 15th & Market streets in Philadelphia. Based in Greenville, South Carolina, Emergent had been expanding quickly but closed some of the newest offices, including this one. Connie Warne will be taking calls for this office at 864-255-4400.
Calls for the new CIT Group office can be directed to 212-790-9199. This Philadelphia sales office will be able to issue asset-based lines of credit of up to $15 million for small and medium sized businesses. Emergent's limit had been $2 million.
The mailing service has reportedly vacated its Montgomery Commons office and the phone has been disconnected.
Belle Haven Investments closed its 4 Research Way office. The headquarters of this broker dealer for municipal tax-free bonds is at 5 Business Park in Greenwich, Connecticut. The phone is 203-629-3323.
Though Bruce Goldberg has moved his design firm to the Orlando area to pursue some different business opportunities, he still has clients in this area. Goldberg does structural design work for business to business packaging such as sales kits. The new address is 916 Versailles Circle, Maitland FL 32751. 407-647-6114, fax 407-647-6064.
In the July 1 issue U.S. 1 misspelled the name of Andrew Frank, the new executive director at this organization, dedicated to the preservation and enrichment of Jewish life.
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