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Phuket Live Wire: Infections of epidemic proportions

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Live Wire: Infections of epidemic proportions | Thaiger

PHUKET: My fellow editor at InfoWorld, Robert Lemos, published a story in eWeek last month that took Thailand to task for its incredibly lousy record with different kinds of malware.

Quoting a study from antivirus company Sophos, Lemos says that Thailand is the third worst country in the world for PC infections.

According to the eWeek report: “A user surfing the Web in the third riskiest online nation, Thailand, has a greater than one-in-five chance of encountering malware each quarter, according to Sophos. The nation has ranked high on lists of most infected countries for more than a year.

In April 2011, for example, antivirus firm PandaLabs named it the No 2 most infected country, with nearly two-thirds of systems infected by some form of malicious software.”

While I doubt PandaLabs contention that two-thirds of the PCs in Thailand are infected, I’d be willing to bet that Sophos’ observation of one-fifth is too low. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if simple scans of local PCs turned up half or more infected with a huge range of viruses, botnets, and all sorts of creepy-crawlies. Your PC, too.

Lemos goes on to say:

“Many of the threats that impact those nations take advantage of older vulnerabilities, says Richard Wang, manager of Sophos’ research labs. That is a pretty strong indication that there are a lot of PCs out there that are not being protected by updates or any form of security software,” he said.

I’ve been preaching about this problem in Phuket for nigh on ten years now. Richard Wang got part of the problem right, but he missed the biggest problem: pirate software. I’d be willing to bet that 80 per cent – probably closer to 95 per cent – of the PCs in Phuket are running pirated versions of Windows.

Some people think that they got “genuine” copies of Windows when they bought their PCs, but they didn’t.

Others took perfectly good PCs in for repair and, unbeknownst to them, the repair technician blasted a pirate copy of Windows onto their machines just because it’s faster and easier than installing a genuine copy.

Some pirate copies of Windows get updated properly, with new security patches applied the way they should be. Many do not. Some pirate copies turn off Windows Updates because the updates have a nasty habit of identifying pirate software, sooner or later. Some pirate copies include spyware, built right into the CD, at no extra cost.

Here are the four easiest ways to avoid becoming infected:

1) Don’t install a pirate copy of Windows.

You don’t have to install it, personally. The company that sold you the computer, if you bought it in Thailand, probably stuck a pirate copy on the machine just to be nice. The wonderful repairman who gave you all that new software probably gave you a pirate copy of Windows too.

2) Don’t run Windows XP

Even a “genuine” copy of Windows XP has so many security holes in it, it’s just a disaster waiting to happen. I don’t know how many times I’ve found copies of Windows XP running botnets and rootkits that are completely undetectable without an offline scan.

3) Don’t run Internet Explorer 6

Microsoft is trying hard to wean people off IE 6.

They even have a deathwatch for IE 6, at ie6countdown.com.

I just published a list in InfoWorld of the worst Microsoft mistakes ever – and IE 6 was #1 on the list.

More computers have been infected through IE 6 (particularly through Flash, Adobe Reader and ActiveX running on IE 6) than any other source.

4) Update everything

Security patches exist for a reason, and it has a whole lot more to do with keeping you safe than with any nefarious attempt to track you or play Big Brother.

You need to update everything: Windows; Office (if you have it); Flash; Adobe Reader (or dump it and use Foxit); your antivirus software (I still swear by the free Microsoft Security Essentials); your browser(s); Photoshop; AutoDesk; QuickBooks and all that other stuff you run.

Here are the best solutions that I know:

1) Get genuine

Not sure if your copy of Windows is for real? Click Start, right-click Computer (or My Computer) and choose Properties. At the bottom you’ll see if the copy of Windows that you have passed Windows Genuine Advantage. Even if the notice says you have a “Genuine” copy, you don’t necessarily have a genuine copy.

If you aren’t using Microsoft Security Essentials, download and install it. If you can download and install MSE, your copy of Windows is genuine enough.

If you have a fake copy of Windows, it might help to figure out how it got that way. If a repairman stuck a fake copy on your genuine machine (if you bought the PC in North America or Europe, it’s probably genuine), scream bloody murder. If you’re stuck, you may have to buy a new copy of Windows. I’ve been recommending for more than three years that people install Windows 7 on any PC other than old laptops (which can’t handle it).

If you have friends in North America or Europe, they can buy copies of Windows 7 Home Premium for US$50 or less, in three packs, and about US$100 for single packs. The cheapest copies of Windows 7 I’ve found in Phuket are at SuperCheap, but there are many alternatives, and they aren’t a whole lot more than 3,500 baht.

2) Dump XP

I know that many of you swear by XP but, for heaven’s sake, it’s been around for about twelve years now. That makes it about 144 in internet years. Dump it.

Get an iMac or a Nexus, or even a netbook.

If you can’t bear to part with your old hardware (which is probably worth, oh, about 500 baht by now), upgrade your current PC to run a genuine copy of Windows 7.

3) Get another browser

You can use IE 8 (if you’re running Windows XP), IE 9 or IE 10, the latest versions of Firefox or Google Chrome – or, better, IE, Chrome and Firefox. A whole new world awaits.

4) Get updated

Download, install, and religiously use Secunia PSI . PSI scans your computer constantly and figures out if there are updates for any of your programs. Optionally, it’ll automatically install all of the latest updates. Free, and it’s worth its weight in gold.

Worried that you may have a rootkit? It’s much more common than you think. Download and run Windows Defender Offline. That’s the only tool I know that can find and will disinfect most Windows rootkits.

You can’t run WDO from inside Windows, it has to be run outside.

Full instructions are on the Microsoft site.

We’re running informal computer clinic roundtables every Sunday morning at Sandwich Shoppe Chalong, located 1 km north of Chalong Circle on Chao Fah East road. If you have a Windows problem that needs to be solved, or a question about internet service in Phuket, drop by and ask one of the assembled gurus. Sponsored by the Phuket Gazette and Khun Woody’s Sandwich Shoppes.

Live Wire is Woody Leonhard’s weekly snapshot of all things Internet in Phuket.

Follow him on Twitter, @PhuketLiveWire, and “like” the pages at facebook.com/SandwichShoppe, facebook.com/phuketgazette.net and now Google+, or send him mail

— Woody Leonhard

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions

Tim Newton

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Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | Thaiger

Three of Thailand’s biggest expat areas are seeing sharp rises in new infections, partly from pre-Songkran traffic. The Songkran holidays, now officially over (but will see many people taking today off and making a weekend Songkran extension), and the government says they are expecting to see a rise in the cases numbers reported in the popular holiday locations.

Chon Buri Public Health office says they now have a total of 910 infections since April 1. They have 103 new cases in the past 24 hours. Most new cases are in Bang Lamung district which includes Pattaya City with 47, Siracha with 12) & Chon buri City with 8.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

Meanwhile Phuket has a total of 142 infections recorded on the island with the Governor still insisting there will be no need for a lockdown. Here’s a breakdown of the areas and the numbers of recorded infections so far (below).

Governor Narong announced that the Phuket Infectious Disease Control Committee won’t be implementing an official lockdown, but will “strictly raise the intensity of public health measures to counter the spread of Covid-19″.

“Everyone should wear a face mask, maintain social distancing, wash their hands frequently and install the Mor Chana app (available for free from App Store and Google Play Store).”

A meeting of the CCSA, chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to upgrade restrictions in red zone areas around the country, which includes Phuket and Pattaya. Read more about the latest red and orange zones HERE.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

For Hua Hin expats, there’s been 100 new Covid-19 infections announced in Prachuap Khiri Khan in the past 24 hours, 75 cases from Hua Hin. This takes the total in the province since April 1 to 625. Hua Hin accounts for nearly 90% of the district’s total cases.

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Transport

Footbridges stop luxury yacht travelling from Phuket to Samui

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Footbridges stop luxury yacht travelling from Phuket to Samui | Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand's version of the Suez Canal blockage.

Footbridges in Phuket stood in the way of a luxury yacht travelling from its home in Phuket to Koh Samui when the boat was too tall to pass. Police received a call around 8 pm last night from the truck driver after his trailer carrying the yacht had trouble getting under one of several bridges for walkers to pass over the highway. The boat was travelling down Thepkrasattri Road, where it was stopped by the bridge near Baan Tha Reua School. The boat also had trouble at the pedestrian bridge at the Provincial Electricity Authority Thalang Branch and the bridge at Baan Lipon School in Srisoonthorn.

All the bridges were supposed to have a 5-metre clearance, though one observer speculated that all the repaving of the road over the years may have raised the road and lowered the clearance. Traffic police responded to the first bridge incident by sending officers to direct traffic and make sure bikes and cars didn’t pass and impeded progress on freeing the boat. The second incident about 30 minutes later was resolved by letting air out of the truck’s tires to lower it just enough to pass under the bridge. The third snag prompted the driver to go in person to the Thalang Police station to request help yet again.

This time police were less amused and suggested the truck driver try to resolve the issue himself and call back to the police only if he was unable to free the luxury yacht. A traffic police officer went to follow up with the stranded boat at the end of his shift and found the driver had given up and decided to return the yacht to its Phuket origin at Boat Lagoon Marina in Koh Kaew. The boat, now damaged from the bridge bumps, wasn’t going to make it to Surat Thani to be sailed to Koh Samui on this journey. The boat radar had broken off on one of the bridges. No word on any major damage to the pedestrian bridges.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge

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Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge | Thaiger
PHOTO: Hotels and other tourism business are hoping the July 1st reopening goal can still be achieved.

A hotel information blog is claiming that, despite growing Covid-19 numbers, Phuket should stick to its schedule in reopening to travellers without quarantine in July. That’s only 2 and a half months away.

In an interview with the Director of Travel and Tourism Consulting at GlobalData, they stressed that while it is crucial to rein in the spread of Covid-19 and the B117 strain now menacing Thailand, the risk must not overshadow the need to push forward with vaccinations and the march towards eliminating the quarantine by July in order to save the tourism industry and all those dependent on it.

“The Phuket pilot program is essential in creating a path towards economic recovery for Thailand, a country heavily dependent on tourism. More than 17% of Thailand’s gross domestic product is attributed to tourism and the Covid-19 pandemic has lead to the worst economic free-fall in over 20 years”

The blog acknowledges the inherent risk and possible appearance of foolishness to prioritise the plans to reopen and carry on with the same rollout schedule. But they urge Thai authorities to consider that July 1 is still 2 and a half months away, leaving ample time to recover and make progress towards the approaching Phuket reopening. A vital aspect of the reopening plan lies in vaccinating over 70% of Phuket’s provincial residents, a sizable task, but one that brings great benefit with or without the scheduled reopening.

“Pushing ahead to achieve this goal puts Phuket on track to welcome back tourists, perhaps in a “bio-bubble”, and restart the economy. The economy is desperate with household debt growing, pushing the government to enact emergency decrees to provide relief. These households need the return of tourism and the influx of cash international tourists will bring.”

The blog hopes that Thai authorities can balance the necessary Covid-19 safety measures in Phuket to protect the Thai population with the economic need to bring back tourism. They believe that with sufficient measures in place, vaccinated locals could welcome vaccinated international tourists back to Phuket reopening safely in July.

SOURCE: Hotel News Resource

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