What's new in business news: April 21, 2014 | Bangkok Post: learning

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What's new in business news: April 21, 2014

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Heartbleed: Need to update computer security, rise of Thailand's bicycle industry & rice scheme must go on hold, govt says. 

A cyclist using the The Bike Bogie, a special compartment for bicycles launched recently by the State Railway of Thailand. Kosol Nakachol

INTERNET & COMPUTER SECURITY 

Heartbleed: Need to update computer security 

Thousands of computers in Thailand have been left vulnerable to attack by the latest global computer security threat Heartbleed. Heartbleed appears to be one of the biggest flaws in the history of the internet, affecting the basic security of as many as two-thirds of the world’s websites. The new Heartbleed threat is part of a trend in which Hackers are trying to create new sources of vulnerability after Microsoft ended its Windows XP support. Web servers, network routers, smartphones and video surveillance are the most vulnerable targets. 

State agencies and companies handling sensitive personal or business data or records as well as e-commerce service providers and companies who use OpenSSL need to update their encryption software to the latest version with a security patch to prevent data leak.

Heartbleed is a computer programming bug that enables outsiders to read the memory of a targeted computer accessing secret keys used to identify service providers and for encrypting names and passwords of users. The bug allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from services and users and to impersonate services and users. 

[From a technical perspective, the bug is a serious vulnerability in the OpenSSL cryptographic software library which allows attackers to steal information protected by the SSL/TLS encryption. SSL/TLS provides communication security and privacy over the internet for applications such as web, email, instant messaging and some virtual private networks. Companies who use OpenSSL version below 1.01g need to update their software and tools to check if a websites is affected are available at  www.tisa.or.th. Consumers are urged to change their passwords annually and for Android devices changing to the 4.1.1 version is better.]

Read full story here 

BICYCLES 

Rise of Thailand's bicycle industry 

Cycling is becoming increasingly popular in Thailand and it is common now for affluent people to own two or three mountain bikes, road bikes, folding bikes, single speed bikes and/or children's bikes. The average price for regular bikes sold here is 8,000-20,000 baht, and the majority of people buy bikes in this price range. With a population of 64.8 million, Thailand sells between 1.3 and 1.5 million bicycles annually. There are several  major bicycle assembly companies in Thailand including LA Bicycle, Siam Cycle International (Turbo brand), Victory Cycle (Marawuti and Tiger brand), Thai Bicycle Industry (Pheasant), Raja Cycle (Meadow and Optima) and Siam Cycle Industrial. Bicycle imports have risen over the last four years from only 730 million baht in 2011 to 1.5 billion baht in 2013. For the first two months of this year, imports rose 114% to 400 billion baht. The domestic bicycle market is worth around 5 billion baht a year or 3 million units, with high-end bicycles accounting for 20% of the total market.

LA Bicycle, is the country's largest manufacturer with an annual production capacity of 1.5 million bikes. Founded in 2003, LA Bicycle is a unit of the Sampran Group, which has businesses ranging from food and textile to retail and property. LA Bicycle, which dominates the low-end segment under the LA brand, controls 65% of the overall market. All of its bikes are produced at its Nakhon Pathom facility. Besides the domestic market, the company also has distributors in Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. In a strategic move to tap the high-end market, LA Bike launched its Infinite brand in 2008 and opened its Culture Cycliste flagship store in 2010 which sells only high-end bicycles. To make Infinite better known, LA has formed a cycling team that joins race events nationwide. 

Last year, LA Bicycle reported sales of 1.4 billion baht, down 9% from a year before. Of total sales, domestic sales contributed 45%, and the rest came from exports to the US, Britain, the EU, India, Japan and neighbouring countries including Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Flat sales growth this year is likely due to weakened consumption, political instability and a sluggish economy. For investment overseas, a planned production facility in India has been dropped in favour of Myanmar which will be cheaper.

Read full story here and here for Bangkok Bike 2014 fair

AGRICULTURE

Rice scheme must go on hold, govt says

The caretaker government cannot continue its rice-pledging scheme in the main harvest 2013-2014, as it no longer has the authority to oversee the scheme, caretaker Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said. The minister on Friday testified as the last witness in a hearing before the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) in Nonthaburi province. The chairman of the Thai Farmers Association has asked the government to withdraw an additional 40 billion baht from the central budget to cover farmers' overdue payments. Earlier, the Election Commission (EC) approved the withdrawal of at least 20 billion baht from the central budget to pay the farmers. The government has yet to acquire 90 billion baht in loans to pay farmers who sold their paddy between December 2013 and January 2014. 

Meanwhile,  farmers in the North are complaining about payments by the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC). The BACC has offered a six-month debt moratorium for farmers affected by delayed rice payments, but some northern farmers claim the bank has failed to abide by its offer. Instead of receiving 200,000-300,000 baht from selling rice to the scheme, some farmers were left with only a few thousand baht after the bank deducted their debts. Some farmers say the money they have left over is not enough for them to pay off the loans they took out from loan sharks. The six-month debt moratorium offered by the bank also can only be applied only to farmers who have not yet received any money under the scheme.  

Read full story here 

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