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Vietnam farmers bury chili plants alive as buyer breaks promise

Several dozen of hectares of chili pepper crops in the north-central Vietnamese province of Nghe An have been ‘buried alive’ as the company that had promised to buy them did not show up at harvest time.

While their fields are reddened with ripe chili peppers, farmers in Hoa Son Commune, Anh Son District had no other choice but to destroy the plants.

More than 120 farmers in the commune have destroyed nearly 12 hectares of chili crops as the buyer is nowhere to be seen.

Growers uprooted the chili trees and threw them down to the big holes used as water reservoirs for the live burial.

“Our time and money spent on tending to the crops are now wasted,” said Nguyen Thi Men, a 53-year-old grower who has just buried her chili plants alive.

“We had to destroy the chili crops to switch to other plants such as corn and sugarcane.”

Men said more than 120 households in her village grew chili and all had to do the same with their crops.

Nguyen Van Minh, a 62-year-old grower, said he does not know what to do with his 0.15 hectare field full of the red, ripe chili peppers.

In 2014, when authorities in Hoa Son encouraged local farmers to grow chili peppers, Minh followed the call, and in fact raked in VND27 million (US$1,205) from his 0.15 hectare crop.

“The earning was three to four times higher than growing other plants,” he said, adding it was such an initial success that motivated him to expand his crop.

“But in 2015, prices dropped and no one came to buy my products, so I just left my crop abandoned,” he said.

Minh and his chili trees. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Huu Tho, chairman of the Hoa Son administration, revealed that an agro-forestry company based in the neighboring province of Thanh Hoa is to blame for the hardship of local chili growers.

In 2014 the company contracted with the Hoa Son administration to buy all products of the commune’s chili growers, Tho said.

“There were only a few households joining the program then and they indeed earned much bigger profits by selling to that company,” the official said.

The success has sent more local farmers to join the program, expanding the total area of chili crops in the commune to 12 hectares with 122 participating households in 2015.

“These farmers are expected to harvest some 360 metric tons of chili peppers but the company suddenly stopped purchases,” Tho said.

Local authorities have called for help from a company in Nghe An, but still failed to help clear all the supply.

Besides Hoa Son, five other communes in Anh Son District, with hundreds of chili growers, are suffering the same ‘bitter season.’

Nguyen Dinh Dang, head of the district’s agriculture bureau, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Friday that the district has some 30 hectares of chili crops, with a total supply of thousands of metric tons.

“The [Thanh Hoa-based] company not only stopped buying, but also owes them VND300 million [$13,393],” Dang said.

“We have worked with the company but they said they are also facing difficulties and thus unable to resolve the problem.”

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Campaign ramps up cybersecurity

Intellectual protection enforcement agencies nationwide have handled 26,004 cases, with imposed fines totalling VND68 billion (US$3 million), according to Tran Minh Dung, chief inspector of the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Dung announced the figures yesterday at the launch of the one-month campaign commemorating World Intellectual Property Day.

Vice Minister of Science and Technology (MOST) Tran Viet Thanh speaks at the event. — Photo VNA

Vice Minister of Science and Technology (MOST) Tran Viet Thanh speaks at the event. — Photo VNA

Dung said that according to rough statistics from Task Forces (Program 168) in the term 2012-15, enforcement agencies confiscated and destroyed or removed about 70 tonnes of food; tens of thousands of imported bottles of liquor; nearly 27,000 medicine products; 80,900 fertilisers, and millions of electronic goods, handbags, footwear and clothing, all of which faked trademarks and infringed the rights of genuine industrial property owners. They also confiscated tens of thousands of stampless and illegally-imported CDs and DVDs.

In computer software ownership enforcement alone, Chief Inspector of the Ministry of Culture-Sports-Tourism (MOCST) Vu Xuan Thanh said, “In 2015, MOCST inspectors spot-checked 89 companies for compliance with existing computer software ownership laws in various places nationwide. Inspecting teams examined 3,942 computers and issued fines for civil offenses worth VND2.5 billion.”

As chairman of the one-month campaign’s launch, Vice Minister of Science and Technology (MOST) Tran Viet Thanh said the purpose of the initiative is “press ahead the establishment, application, development and enforcement of IP rights; ensure that IP rights become a useful tool to promote science and technology development, and socioeconomic development as a whole; and create society-wide awareness on the need to observe international agreements related to IP.”

The campaign, lasting from March 31 to April 30, will sponsor educational and training activities, followed by enhanced enforcement activities in the following months, Thanh said.

“Going forward, to stick to Viet Nam’s TPP commitments, we will scan, revise and update our legal framework related to intellectual property, especially in association with patents, trademarks, geographical indications, know-how, copyrights and enforcement of intellectual property rights,” Thanh said.

“Keeping this in mind, the Vietnamese Government and the country’s entire intellectual property right registration and enforcement system are making steps to improve and take to new heights the efficacy of intellectual property right protection and enforcement in Viet Nam.”

Building on the many years of co-operation with Vietnamese governmental bodies, Roland Chan, a senior director of BSA-The Software Alliance, said that over the years, BSA has initiated many awareness campaigns aimed at educating and assisting companies to address their software licensing and management issues.

Roland said the programmes have been successful, but they are now seeing a rise in cybercrime, which transcends borders. Organisations and business owners must be vigilant to protect themselves and their businesses from the growing threats of malware and data theft through the adoption of an effective and efficient software license management practice, Roland said.

The good news is that with effective management of software assets, the risk of a cybersecurity breach is greatly diminished. Part of BSA’s goal in this new campaign is to draw greater awareness of cybersecurity risks that come with the use of unlicensed software.

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Kaspersky Lab, WISeKey launch mobile app to secure users’ data

Kaspersky Lab and Swiss cyber security company WISeKey have launched a special edition of the cyber-resilience app WISeID Kaspersky Lab Security that integrates the best technologies from both companies to offer safety for mobile users’ data.

WISeID Kaspersky Lab Security protects mobile users' personal information from cyber criminals. — VNS Photo

WISeID Kaspersky Lab Security protects mobile users’ personal information from cyber criminals. — VNS Photo

The new app locks personal data such as account usernames and passwords, credit card numbers and access PINs into a secure personal data organiser, creating accountable identities for online activity while the data itself remains protected in a secure cloud vault.

It includes Kaspersky Mobile Security SDK, a robust and proven solution for protecting mobile phones against security threats. Its inclusion delivers advanced security features like web and network protection, device protection and risk detection.

WISeID keeps passwords in an encrypted vault, generates hard-to-crack passwords, and safely synchronises data between computers and devices on multiple platforms using secure cloud storage.

Mobile security threats are increasing in number and sophistication. Though mobile operating systems provide app developers with significant security features, hackers are still able to use many different infection vectors to place malware.

WISeID is available for iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac OSX, Windows, and Kindle.

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VN network security at high risk: experts

Viet Nam is a main target for hackers in the network environment, said Nguyen Van Thinh, deputy head of the Department of Cyber Security under the Ministry of Public Security, at the Security World 2016 conference on Tuesday.

Up to 600 hacker groups attacked Vietnamese e-portals last year, and most of the attacks came from abroad. — Photo genk.vn

Up to 600 hacker groups attacked Vietnamese e-portals last year, and most of the attacks came from abroad. — Photo genk.vn

The event aims to set up security measures, ensure information security for e-Government, propose measures to protect enterprises’ databases and curb data leaks.

Thinh attributed the increasing number of attacks to serious security loopholes that have not been repaired on most electronic websites and information portals.

Up to 600 hacker groups attacked Vietnamese e-portals last year, and most of the attacks came from abroad. Foreign hacker groups continuously attack specific targets with upgraded malware, experts said.

According to Truong Thi Le Thuy, director general of Cisco Viet Nam, hackers are continually developing their technology and strategies, which are becoming more sophisticated in order to steal information, data and money without being detected.

“Network security in Viet Nam is facing an alarming situation, which requires organisations and businesses to urgently find technological solutions to protect themselves from unforeseen security invasions,” Thuy said.

To protect information security in Viet Nam, Thinh suggested solutions including strengthening communications and education to raise awareness on insecurity, as well as writing and enacting provisions and laws to address the problem.

In addition, he also proposed the early promulgation of instructions for the law of cyber information security and international co-operation in the field of information security.

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