Prevent those pesky infections
By the Computer Quack
In recent weeks, a new worm hit the headlines. Called
Stuxnet, it received major press because not only was it engineered to
attack specific process control systems, but it also may have been targeted
at a certain country’s nuclear program.
But what caught my eye was the method of infection. This
1.5Mb monster (large and sophisticated by anyone’s standards) has the
ability to leap from computer to USB flash drive and back, which is one of
its main methods of spreading.
With the proliferation of Flash drives these days,
malware writers see them as an ideal medium for transporting their nasty
little viruses and trojans from computer to computer – and noticeably from
often poorly-protected home computers, past all of those expense corporate
firewalls and anti-virus gateways, straight to the USB port of your office
The situation is not helped by our friends at Microsoft,
who engineered a very convenient system in Windows which by default allows
programs to be run from your USB drive when it is plugged in, without your
knowledge or permission.
So in this column, I’m going to show you how you can do a
couple of things to prevent getting a virus from an infected USB – and how
to stop your USB drives getting infected in the first place.
Microsoft created the Autorun function to make life easy
for us. They decided that we weren’t smart enough to find the Setup program
on a software CD, so they gave software vendors the ability to create a
simple file called “Autorun. inf” on CDs (of which USB drives are really
just a sophisticated derivative). When you pop your CD or USB drive into the
PC, Windows reads it, looks for an autorun.inf and, on finding it, executes
all of the commands in it. If they happen to be “install this virus and
steal all passwords”, that is exactly what it will do.
In the past, I would have sent you scurrying to the
Microsoft Powertoys website to download TweakUI, and told you which setting
to change, but thanks to the kind folk at Panda Labs, you can now kill two
birds with one stone. They have released a very handy utility called “Panda
USB Vaccine”, which you can download from:
This utility does two things:
First it disables the Autorun function on your PC, thus
preventing the automatic execution of USB or CD-borne programs. Of course
you can still open the drive in Windows Explorer and run programs if you
must, but you’re probably plugging the drive in to copy some photos or music,
Secondly, it uses a clever little exploit to “vaccinate”
the Autorun.inf file on each drive, preventing it from working. So not only
does this neuter any malicious program that might be lurking there, but it
also stops future infections from installing themselves in this manner.
I can’t really see a downside to this unless you are a
marketing company and want to give people USB drives or CDs that open right
up into your company’s presentations. But even then, I have little sympathy
for you, so don’t expect me to shed any tears. There are possibly other USB
“appliances” which may get crippled by being vaccinated (Checkpoint’s Abra
springs to mind), but if you aren’t using such things (and I doubt you are,
or you wouldn’t need to read this) then there is nothing to worry about.
If you don’t like the Panda version, there is another
freeware utility called Autorun Protector, which does much the same job (although
it requires .NET Framework 2.0 or higher to work).
Panda USB Vaccine works fine on all versions of Windows;
I can’t say that I have tested Autorun Protector, but I assume it will work
fine on Windows XP.
Your questions and comments on anything tech-related are
always welcome at [email protected]
The arts abound in Chiang Mai
By Shana Kongmun
Recently I read where someone bemoaned the lack of
culture in Chiang Mai which is rather surprising given the large number of
gallery openings, musical events and more that take place in Chiang Mai.
From the interactive multi-media Madifesto exhibition at CMU Art Center that
was held for two days in early October, to the current exhibition running
there now, to the exhibition of pen and ink drawings of Chiang Mai temples
and architecture by the talented Thai artist Tanachai Ekuruchaitep and
miniatures paintings by Gilbert Medam at Sangdee Gallery (until November 9)
to the photo exhibition at Soho on Huay Kaew. Then there is the marvelous
Myanmar art show reviewed in another piece, there is certainly no shortage
of art on show in Chiang Mai.
ink drawings and miniatures are on display at Sangdee Gallery on
Sirimangkalajarn Soi 5. Pictured here are the artists, Tanachai Ekuruchaitep
and Gilber Medam.
If one were to move on to music, the Guitarman recently
played host to an amazing cumbia band from Mexico, La Sabrosa Sabrosura put
on an excellent show with their funky beats, a unique Mexican blend of the
Colombian style Cumbia music mixed with reggae and ska. Those that weren’t
already up and dancing were bopping in their seats. Additionally the Isaan
fusion jazz band Boonhugsa plays both at Sangdee Gallery and at the Garden
and renowned Thai singer Nadda Viyakarn performed at the Playhouse Theater
on October 12.
What lacks in many of these events is sufficient advance
notice! So, to all galleries, musicians and more, please feel free to let us
know when you have something coming up. We are happy to include it in our
every growing community happenings page that will be updated online
regularly and on facebook.
Madifesto, at the CMU Art Center recently, featured multimedia interactive
exhibitions including this unique mock up of a full body scanner from the
airport, more than a few visitors to the gallery were wary of walking
through and it demonstrated in a very visible way, the artists concerns over
Sabrosa Sabrosura performed their fun
and funky music at the Guitarman on October 8 and 9.
Vibrant Exhibition of New Burmese Paintings
By Mark Whitman
A spectacular and comprehensive collection of new works
from 25 of Burma’s leading artists is on display at the CMU main art gallery
onNimmenhaemin Road. This is one of the most important exhibitions to open
in Chiang Mai in recent years.
the artists whose work is on display at the CMU Art Centre. (Photo courtesy
Some of the artists attended the opening on Saturday
October 9, from their homes in Burma (a.k.a.Myanmar) and the wide range of
work on display – around 80 paintings – was an impressive indication that
whatever the internal political problems of the country, contemporary art is
The exhibition was mounted to help celebrate the sixth
anniversary of the Suvannabhumi Art Gallery which is based at 116-118
Chareonrat Road. The owner of the gallery, Khun Mar Mar, has been promoting
Burmese art for many years and brings over works on a regular basis.
The sheer size of this show would be one indication of
the vibrancy of art in Burma, but what makes it notable is the range of
paintings on display – from abstract to semi representational, from water
colours to acrylic and oils. Most of the painters are well established in
their own country and still live there, although a few have moved abroad.
Many are achieving international recognition. Most are working and often
teaching in Yangon.
Everyone will have their favourites in such a colourful
and exciting show, for me they included the vividly coloired abstract works
of Kin Maung Yin, the wonderfully inventive paintings of Po Po, the highly
atmospheric work of Kyee Myintt and the evocative and beautifully textured
paintings of Pe Nyunt Way. But all of the artists, young or venerable,
deserve your time. The ‘Myanmar Contemporary Art Exhibition’ is open every
day (except Mondays) until 30 October, 2010. Located at the Chiang Mai
University Art Centre, with free entry.
Schedule of the Doi Saket International Film Festival
October 23 to 30, 2010
by Mark Gernpy
Over one hundred films will be screened in a period of
one week during the first Doi Saket International Film Festival. Most of the
films are short – very short, like a minute or two – because there were no
restrictions placed on filmmakers about length or content or form. Truly, up
to the filmmaker.
Exact scheduling of the films was not available at press
time, but they have a very good website at http://dsiff.tumblr.com/ and
promise a full schedule there as soon as possible.
One particular screening stands out for me: Mundane
History, a well-known Thai film that has won many awards and much talk in
international festivals, but has so far only had a few screening in
Thailand. It is being presented at the Alliance Francaise on Thursday, Oct
28. I’m betting around 7 pm.
Use their website and the overall schedule given here to
plan your moviegoing during this week of films and you will have a
fascinating and rich experience for sure!
DAY 1: Sat, Oct 23, 5-9 pm
Opening ceremony at Srisupa-Akson Building, Doi Saket
temple. Screening of the opening film.
DAY 2: Sun, Oct 24, 5-9 pm
School for Life, in the Huay Hong Krai Research and
Development Centre, Doi Saket. Film screenings. Activities with
underprivileged children, and discussions about acquiring a higher education;
also, the availability of scholarships inside Thailand and abroad for
children who lack financial support.
DAY 3-4: Mon-Tue, Oct 25-26, 1-5 pm
Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna, Doi Saket.
Screenings followed by a Q&A with several directors, and the opening of the
Doi Saket Film Market. The Market is a new space for buying and selling
films, for meetings about film production, international cooperation, and
fund- raising for film projects.
DAY 5: Wed, Oct 27
1-5 pm - At the Juvenile Observation and Protection
Centre of Chiang Mai Province, Mae Rim. Screening of films, plus a
discussion on options for acquiring further education and career
opportunities in the film industry.
1-9 pm - At Media Arts & Design, behind CMU Art Center on
Nimmanhaemin Road. Screening of films, plus discussions on “Freedom of
Expression in Thailand” and “Art – a Solution for the Artist, or a Solution
for the Community and Society?”
DAY 6: Thu, Oct 28
1-9 pm - At Alliance Francaise; A screening of rare films
made possible by the support of the Alliance Francaise Bangkok, as well as
the first public screening in Chiang Mai of Anocha Suwichakornpong’s Mundane
History. Donations will be accepted for the help of a school for the
disabled in Chiang Mai.
1-5 pm - At Media Arts & Design, behind CMU Art Center. A
special program entitled “Homage to Heroes: Films For the People” as a
tribute to Sitthipong Kalayanee, filmmaker, co-founder and director of
Images Asia Inc. Sittipong’s films will be screened along with Video Letters,
a collection of moving-image letters from various filmmakers compiled after
his sudden death in early September.
DAY 7: Fri, Oct 29, 1-9 pm
2BR Sirimangklajarn Road, Soi 11. The Doi Saket Film
Market with outdoor screenings from 6 pm. Artists, students, and young
filmmakers are invited to bring their films and artwork for either sale or
DAY 8: Sat, Oct 30, 6-9 pm
Closing ceremony at Wat Suan Dok. Screening of the
closing film, awards presentation for films and filmmakers of different
categories, and presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to two
significant individuals: Dome Sukawong and Sittipong Kalayanee, for “make a
significant contribution to the advancement of society and the nation –