Typosquatting – have you been affected?

January 6, 2009

Typosquatting – this is a new one on me. Apparently these typosquatters buy up domain names that are common misspellings of popular/big brand URLs.

So unsuspecting punters land on these sites, which are designed to – this is according to McAfee security analyst Greg Day, who may be inclined to paint a gloomy scenario: “generate click-through advertising revenue, lure unsuspecting consumers into scams, harvest email addresses in order to flood unsuspecting internet users with unwanted email and can even result in malware infections.”

So watch your typos, people.

Day offers some simple advice: if you’re not sure of the correct URL, use a search engine instead of guessing. He also says that because of these squatters, there are around 8,000 URLs using “iPhone’. Amazing.

But how much of a problem is this? I’ve never knowingly landed on one of these bogus sites, and I am a very carless typisst.

Have you ever been affected? – Let us know your experiences: please comment below

Oh, and latest news, the scammers are descending on Twitter now.

One thing for sure is that the global plague of internet spammers, scammers and crooks has made information security into a massive business.

Infosecurity Europe 2009 is a big show on at Earl’s Court in April. If you’re interested in this stuff, find out more at http://www.infosec.co.uk/

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2009 set to be a big year for Vilnius

January 2, 2009

Happy new Year to Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius. The city celebrated the start of its year as European Capital of Culture 2009 with an extravaganza of music, theatrics, lights and fireworks. Vilnius is also celebrating its millennium: the first time the city is mentioned is in chronicles from the year 1009.


I visited Vilnius last year on a Baltics press trip hosted by Reval Hotels, to write a feature for ttgbusiness


vilnius1

I’d not been to the region before, I think I was expecting some sort of grim, grey hangover from the soviet era.


What I found was an immaculately restored, Unesco world heritage site, packed with beautiful architecture and fascinating history, and brimming with optimism and confidence.


The Hotel Lietuva was symbolic of this new confidence: the 22-story tower was the old, KGB-bugged soviet Intourist hotel − now totally revamped into a slick, modern property with cool Scandinavian décor and state-of-the-art conference facilities.


The country has enthusiastically embraced the EU in its eagerness to cast off the shackles of its hulking neighbour. Initially it suffered a major brain drain as many of its bright youngsters fled to all points in western Europe. But people say there’s now a steady trickle back.


The excellent tourist guides are full of fascinating tales, from ancient empires through to Nazi horrors, then KGB antics and Cold War paranoia. But they are more keen to talk about Lithuania’s bright future, rather than dwell on the past.


Of course in the current economic climate, the country’s immediate future is as uncertain as everywhere else. But Vilnius is definitely a destination to watch.


Happy new year everyone.

Living it Taj: back in business

December 18, 2008

It’s heartening to see the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai announcing that it will be reopening on Sunday (December 21). This seems a remarkably quick feat given the amount of damage to the hotel we saw on TV during those appalling terrorist attacks.

I hope it’s equally disheartening for the terrorists to see such a determined return to “business as usual”. 

In the words of the Taj homepage: “You will feel the buzz of business as usual and experience hospitality that is quintessentially Taj.” taj-exotica-maldives27

OK, there’s a dash of PR cliché, but I think I can agree there is something “quintessential” about these hotels. I’ve stayed in two of them, the Taj West End in Bangalore and the Taj Exotica in the Maldives. Very different – the West End is a business hotel in the heart of a global commercial hub, while the Exotica is a romantic hideaway resort on a tiny Indian Ocean atoll.

If you missed them, here’s the Maldives and India (Golden Chariot train journey) stories for ttgluxury: http://www.ttgluxury.com/

In both properties I found the staff and management – how to describe? I don’t know, beyond the usual exquisite Asian levels of service, they’re sophisticated, intelligent, without too much fuss.

Bangalore’s West End with its tranquil pools and tropical gardens is a calm oasis in the crazy tumult of this full-throttle city.

The Exotica in the Maldives is… well, OK, the picture you see is my snap of the sun rising over the aircraft carrier-sized infinity pool on my presidential water villa. But that doesn’t mean I’m totally biased.

Now, you may think an impoverished travel journo is easily taken in by a bit of five-star hospitality. But most writers have been around long enough to distinguish between quality service and bullshit and bling. In fact anyone who’s bought a surly, crap coffee for the wrong side of £5 in London, Paris or anywhere else will understand.

Anyway, good luck to the Taj for its fast-track reopening on Sunday. And when you’re next inviting those freeloading ladies and gentlemen of the press to sample your wares, bugger the firebombs – I’ll be there.

 

 

ttgbusiness Awards: Jeremy Vine reveals his Andrew Sachs moment

December 10, 2008

The 400-strong ttgbusiness Awards gala bash was a lively affair, with the winners raising the roof at the Radisson SAS Portman hotel every time an award was announced. awardspic

After a delicious lunch of mushroom veloute and herb-crusted rack of lamb (washed down with plenty of wine), top BBC presenter Jeremy Vine took to the stage to hand out the gongs.

See the winners here

See pics from the event here

Vine started by reading out some funny and quirky comments by Radio 2 listeners on the hot topics of the day, then played us an excerpt from Russell Brand’s (now defunct) radio show, where a ranting Russell accuses the hapless presenter of having unprotected sex with his own wife.

He then sailed slickly through the awards, while lively tables such as CWT, FCm and Chambers cheered up a storm whenever their names were called.

Then the party moved en masse across to the other side of Portman Square for the BMI-sponsored after show party at Rubylo for drinks, DJ and dancing…

Were you a winner? Did you enjoy the event? Did you see Paul Tilstone dancing? Tell us your tales from the day (and night) below…!

MPI gets into the Christmas spirit at the Mermaid

December 8, 2008

Just attended the MPI (Meeting Professionals International) Christmas dinner at the Mermaid conference centre overlooking the Thames.

From there I could see our offices (Ludgate House) on the southside of the river, bathed in winter sunlight – which was nice for me because I could almost see colleagues slaving away at their desks while we enjoyed Prosecco, psychic magicians and wonderful Indian food (a great alternative to turkey and trimmings).

Sponsored by Reval Hotels and Downs Racecourse, it was a gathering of M&E buyers, planners and suppliers from around the world.

If this sounds serious – it wasn’t! Good food, crap jokes (mainly from the crackers), ESPA goodies and lots of laughs. The party is still going strong as I totter over Blackfriars bridge to write this…

Pictures and more to follow, watch this space…

Islanda in the sun

December 4, 2008

Thailand: it seems the travel industry – along with many other sectors – could be on the road to recovery with the airport siege being resolved. But business has already has already taken a massive hit, running into millions a day since the siege started.

So anybody doing business in southeast Asia – think about this little gem as an incentive/meetings venue with a difference. The Islanda resort is utterly charming and the perfect place for some “blue sky” thinking.

Islanda Resort, Koh Klang, Krabi

Islanda Resort, Koh Klang, Krabi

A five minute long-tail boat ride from the mainland town of Krabi, the island of Koh Klang is a step back in time: buffalo standing in vivid green rice fields, and no cars – the largest vehicle on the island is the resort’s ornate tuk tuk. Alarmingly young children whizz around expertly riding motorbikes.

The resort is blissfully peaceful and has a conference room which can host up to 50 delegates. The large infinity pool is definitely the place to recharge between brainstorming sessions.

A few minutes away on the mainland, the Maritime Park & Spa Resort, owned by the same group, has a convention centre which can host up to 1,000 – and its conveniently close to Krabi airport.

Perhaps a creative events organiser could use the little sister resort on the island as an exotic and exclusive breakout room?

Meeting in Phuket: more conference/events news from Thailand here

Shangri La refugees, part 2

December 1, 2008
This morning we met our host at the Shangri La, Rosemarie Wee, area director of communications.

She told us the political situation in Thailand was causing a significant blow for the group: the Shangri La in Chiang Mai was due be official host of the 2008 ASEAN Summit, with hundreds of politico/economic VVIP attendees from across the region. It’s now been postponed.

This high-profile event is The Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ annual meeting discussing the region’s economic and cultural development. Global strategic and security issues are also covered.

Shangri La refugees

December 1, 2008

Ok, so here’s how we escaped from Thailand. Our wonderful hosts at the Pakasai resort in Krabi, arranged a minibus to take us to the town of Hat Yai. We left at 6.30am, driving like the clappers in the pouring rain.

Arrived at Hat Yai with 10 minutes to spare, and board our coach for the long journey south. The border was horrendous – both chaotic and slow – queuing for the best part of three hours to exit Thailand. Then all over again to enter Malaysia (this time quicker).

Foreigners swapped war stories about the Escape from Bangkok, out doing each other with convoluted journeys.

Then the long journey through the rainy night to KL. But several hours in, comes good news via Blackberry – we’re being hosted at the utterly gorgeous Shangri La.

So after about 18hrs of gruelling travel, we shed our skins and swap our grime for five-star bliss!

Escape to Malaysia

November 29, 2008

Bangkok airport siege day 4: We’ve now hatched a plan to travel down to Malaysia by road and catch a flight from Kuala Lumpur.

The situation is as deadlocked as ever with both sides deeply entrenched, and the army seemingly unwilling to do the PM’s bidding and get heavy with the protestors.

The staff and management here at the Pakasai resort in Krabi have been incredible, helping in every way, including booking our flights from KL and tomorrow driving us the four hours to the border to meet our coach – everything done with friendliness and good humour. All those clichés about Thai hospitality are true.

The tourist trade is being hit heavily, to the tune of millions of dollars a day. Visiting the Maritime Park & Spa Resort today, the owner, Khun Pimrapee (who owns four resorts including this place) told me occupancy at the Maritime is booked for around 80% – but it’s currently under 30%.

There are an estimated 100,000 people stranded in Bangkok.

Bangkok blues

November 27, 2008
Krabi, Thailand: We’re meant to be flying to Bangkok tomorrow (Friday) to connect with an Eva Air flight to London.
Everyone’s watching and waiting as the stalemate at Bangkok airport drags on: prime minister, protesters and army holding their positions.
Saw it first on the news on Wednesday morning – then nothing this morning: the hotel’s only English-language news station CNN has not mentioned Thailand since the ghastly events in Mumbai unfolded.

The news websites are highlighting how PAD’s airport blockade is damaging Thailand’s “vital” tourist industry.

The resorts here are working round the clock to keep on top of events: incoming guests are cancelling because their flights haven’t arrived, outgoers are staying longer because they can’t get home.

Apart from this, it’s hard to imagine anything’s wrong with the world – in the Pakasai resort set in lush rainforest gardens, its rooftop pool overlooking the Andaman sea, life goes goes on its languid pleasurable way.

But the people working here are saying that for the tourism industry, on the long hard-working road to recovery after the tsunami, this is the last thing they need.