Danish security company warns of APEC terror risk

“Avoid the APEC meting areas if you can,” Mr. John Muller, President – Marketing of the Danish security company, MPA Limited, warned 25 members of Danish Thai Chamber of Commerce gathered for a security briefing Thursday 16 October before the APEC meeting of Heads of State in Bangkok during the coming week.
      “Why run the risk? Don’t go to the venues. Don’t even walk by the hotels, where the delegates live if you don’t have to,” Mr. Muller elaborated in his speech to members at the extended regular monthly Networking Evenings held every third Thursday of the month at the Admral’s Pub & Restaurant in Sukhumvit soi 18 in Bangkok.
      MPA Limited is one of the oldest and most professional of Thailand’s security companies, providing personal protection as well as property protection and a range of other protection services for some of the leading companies, public institutions and individuals in Thailand.
      In his security briefing, Mr. Muller explained the meticulous planning applied by terrorists in staging bomb attacks like the one against J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta. This event, John Muller said, was a shocking wake-up call for the Thai security authorities. Thailand has so far been spared for international terrorism, but the Jakarta attack showed how easy it would be to stage a similar attack in Bangkok.
      From the information gained by the arrest of the South East Asian terrorist leader Hambali in Thailand, who was behind the Jakarta attack, it was clear that the APEC meeting was targetted. The information gained also proved how well planned these bombings were. The attack had been planned eight months in advance. The bomb had been built 2 month in advance and a few weeks before, a dry run had been conducted to see if everything would go as planned.
      An important part of a terror attack used to be the escape and the exploitation of the event, but with the advent of suicide bombers, these difficulties in staging events had made it more difficult to prevent terror attacks, he explained.
      “The surveillance phase is the best chance to detect any planned attacks,” Mr. Muller explained. This was true for attacks on individuals as well as for terrorist attacks. During the surveillance the attackers had to be near the place where the attack was planned to take place and in most cases both visually and electronically survey the regular movements of people and the physical conditions of the area.
      Mr. Muller’s briefing followed a briefing in computer security, in which MPA expert Jon Clarke proved to the stunned Danish chamber members how he had gained access to several of the wireless LAN computer networks set up by GITS for the Thai government for use during the APEC meeting. Driving down a stretch of Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok with a car equipped for electronic surveillance, they had even been lucky to pass a wireless LAN just as one person – a general manager of a hotel – had logged himself on to the network and there on the screen was his login name and password.
      Jon Clarke had also run an email sampling routine on the website of the Danish Thai Chamber of Commerce http://www.dancham.or.th and in 25 seconds collected 93 emails.
      “Your email address is more important to me as a hacker than your website URL. Not just for spamming you, but because I can use your email address to locate your server and when I know your server I can log on and see all your mails on that server and much more,” he explained.
      “Nothing is secure, just difficult,” was the overall message. Firewalls are not much of a protection, he said. Once the password and username has been obtained for one person, the entire system lies open.
      A few things could, however, be done by companies to avoid calling in hackers. One measure was to prohibit anyone on the network to swap files on the internet like downloading music and using Yahoo and Microsoft Messenger programs. These programs use port 1214, he explained “and that is like stretching up your arm in a crowd shouting “I am here, come and hack me!”

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

View all posts by Gregers Møller

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