Tag: north korea

North Korea turns to robbing banks

When he is not lobbing missiles into the Sea of Japan, shooting his rivals with anti-aircraft guns or having his brother poisoned, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un is taking time out to rob Western banks.

Cyber security outfit Symantec said that a North Korean hacking group known as Lazarus was likely behind a recent cyber campaign targeting organizations in 31 countries, following high-profile attacks on Bangladesh Bank, Sony and South Korea.

Writing in its corporate bog Symantec said researchers have uncovered four pieces of digital evidence suggesting the Lazarus group was behind the campaign that sought to infect victims with “loader” software used to stage attacks by installing other malicious programs.

Symantec researcher Eric Chien said that it was reasonably certain Lazarus was responsible.

The North Korean government has denied allegations it was involved in the hacks, and said its glorious leader was at a wine and cheese evening when the attacks happened and there were nearly a dozen generals who can give him an alibi.

Symantec said it did not know if any money had been stolen. Nonetheless, Symantec said the claim was significant because the group used a more sophisticated targeting approach than in previous campaigns.

Lazarus has already been blamed for a string of hacks dating back to at least 2009, including last year’s $81 million heist from Bangladesh’s central bank, the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment that crippled its network for weeks and a long-running campaign against organizations in South Korea.

Symantec has one of the world’s largest teams of malware researchers, regularly analyses emerging cyber threats to help can defend businesses, governments and consumers that use its security products.

The firm analyzed the hacking campaign last month when news surfaced that Polish banks had been infected with malware. At the time, Symantec said it had “weak evidence” to blame Lazarus.

Symantec said the latest campaign was launched by infecting websites that intended victims were likely to visit, which is known as a “watering hole” attack.

North Korea’s Linux OS is hardly open sauce

north-korea-jong-i_2492687bOpen Saucers  have got under the bonnet of North Korea’s glorious Linux Operating system and discovered it is more oppressive than any proprietary licence can dream up.

Linux is supposed to open up the world, but the Red Star OS limits you to a North Korean government approved view of the world which is more proprietary and bat shit crazy than a company getting a patent for a rounded rectangle.

The system is designed to defend and protect itself from changes made from user space. We will analyse the interaction of the components and the protection mechanisms and provide information on how to deactivate some of the malicious functionality of Red Star OS.

The software watermarks files on USB sticks – to track people shuttling contraband material – and it also does not like people modifying it. It not only has extra safeguards around key system files, but will immediately reboot the PC if it detects changes to those files.

The included antivirus software and web browser point to internal servers, and even the encryption is custom developed.

The open sourcers who looked at the operating system said that it did come with some good security benefits, but it is designed to keep North Koreans isolated. You can’t modify the system to get around censorship in case you are tracked and shot with an anti-aircraft gun.

Kim Jong-Un cures Cancer, Ebola and Aids

north-korea-jong-i_2492687bCheese munching despot Kim Jong-Un claims to have cured Cancer, Ebola and Aids with a new miracle drug.

The Northern Korean dictator announced that his miracle cure consists of ginseng grown from fertiliser and a mix of other ingredients.

The secret sauce to the cure is just that,secret, but it means that no one in North Korea has to worry about these illnesses ever again. It means that only capitalists have to worry about getting sick.

The medicine will apparently be injectable and will be known by the name of Kumdang-2.

In a statement published by Korean Central News Agency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to herald the news, Dr Jon Sung Hun said: “The researchers insert rare earth elements (REE) into insam (gingseng) by applying the mico-elementary fertilizers of REE to the fields of insam.”

“The injection is made of extracts from those complex compounds. As a strong-immuno-activator, the injection has been recognized to prevent different malignant epidemics.”

The drug’s website cites a medical study in Africa where the drug was tested on HIV positive patients. It records that every single participant in the trial noted an improvement, with 56 per cent being completely cured and 44 per cent noting a considering improvement in their condition.

To be fair, the State has made some interesting claims before. Who would have thunk it that Kim Jong Il invented the hamburger and had magical powers which meant he did not need to use the loo.

The state also claims that Kim Jong Il was born atop a North Korean mountain prompting a double rainbow and new star to spontaneously appear. State records show he was born in Siberia.

Now if only Kim Jong Il could fix that pesky drought which is threatening to wipe out most of his country. We expect he will sort that out by tea time.

Apple copies North Korea and builds a mini-internet

Apple-New-North-Korea1Fruity cargo cult Apple has had enough of the real world and is going to mirror a scheme by its role model Kim Jong-un and build another internet.

The big idea is that it will keep those locked within the Apple walled garden of delights away from Google’s advertising and search engine. It will also mean that Apple can control exactly what its users see and believe.

This has the advantage that Apple will only serve up pages which tell you good things about Apple so you will never find out for example that the iWatch is doing badly, and no one wants Tablets.

You will still get most of your regular news broadcasts of course, because most of them write what Apple wants anyway.

It is not the sort of walled garden that North Korea uses. Basically Apple’s iOS 9 has an add ‘in-app search’ functionality via Spotlight and Siri, effectively turning the content ecosphere within installed apps into a mini-internet where the main players will fight for ‘rank’ away from the otherwise ubiquitous eyes of Google. The new functionality will not track users.

Apple announced the glorious plan at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco this week, to cheers from the developer community.

The feature will also be available in Apple’s desktop OS upgrade.

The search method is copied, er similar similar to Google’s much hated PageRank system, which Google have downplayed where an indexing algorithm assigns value to content on the basis of the frequency and/or quality of the sources linking to it or accessing it.

Finally the index will also take in links from the ‘main internet’ via the Web Markup feature, which permits admins to create informational connectivity between their apps and the web. Effectively this will permit Apple OS users to search for information in Safari and open In-App results natively, in context of the app itself.

US failed to get Stuxnet to work on North Koreans

 north-korea-jong-i_2492687bThe US government tried to bring down North Korea’s nuclear programme using Stuxnet, but failed because the country was so electronically isolated.

According to Reuters  the National Security Agency led an effort in parallel to the one that went after Iran’s nuclear programme. It  developed a similar set of malware that would activate itself only when it encountered Korean language settings on the computers it infected.

Like Iran, North Korea used centrifuges obtained from the Pakistani scientist, A.Q. Khan, who led his own country’s nuclear weapons effort. The P-2 centrifuges used by Iran were controlled by supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems from Siemens, with control software running on the Windows operating system.

But North Korea’s government tightly controls access to computers and to the Internet meant that the NSA had fewer ways to introduce malware into the computer systems at the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center, 90 kilometers north of Pyongyang.

It may already have moved past performing uranium enrichment and on to producing plutonium, which would not require centrifuges.

Either way Stuxnet completely failed to stop the North Koreans in their tracks, unlike the Iranians.

North Korean hackers could kill

north-korea-jong-i_2492687bA North Korean defector has warned that the country’s hacker teams are skilled enough to actually bump someone off.

Prof Kim Heung-Kwang told the BBC that the country had around 6,000 trained military hackers and is spending ten to 20 percent of its huge military budget on cyber war projects.

Prof Kim has called for international organisations to step in to prevent North Korea launching more severe attacks before it was too late.

For 20 years Prof Kim taught computer science at Hamheung Computer Technology University, before escaping the country in 2004.

While Prof Kim did not teach hacking techniques, his former students have gone on to form North Korea’s notorious hacking unit Bureau 121 hacking unit. He said that he keeps in contact with people in North Korea.

North Korea has been harassing other countries is to demonstrate that North Korea has cyber war capacity and it is reaching a point where their cyber-attacks could have similar impacts as military attacks, killing people and destroying cities.

A Stuxnet-style attack designed to destroy a city has been prepared by North Korea and is a feasible threat,” Prof Kim said.

Prof Kim said that if North Korea continues to cause damage in this way, an organisation such as Icann should ban North Korea from the Internet.

North Korea will destroy your gadgets

The Glorious People’s Republic of North Korea is developing Russian-made electromagnetic pulse weapons to disable all the electronic equipment in South Korea.

Announcements like this often come from the office of the office of North Korean ex-girlfriend murderer Kim Jong-Un. Normally we file them in our “we have discovered a unicorn basket” for slow news days but this time they come from the South Korean spooks who have spotted the technology being deployed.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) said in a report to parliament that the North had purchased Russian electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weaponry to develop its own versions.

EMP weapons damage electronic equipment and can cause damage including to aircraft. It also means that at a press of a button Kim Jong-Un can switch off every tablet and smartphone in the South and show the Imperialist lap-dogs what it is like to live in North Korea.

Kim Jong-Un sees cyber-attacks as an all-purpose weapon along with nuclear weapons and missiles and is trying to hack into smartphones and lure South Koreans into becoming informants.

North Korea is believed to run an elite cyberwarfare unit of 3,000 people and staged thousands of cyber attacks against the South in recent years, causing financial losses of about $805 million.

North Korea can destroy your gadgets

The Glorious People’s Republic of North Korea is developing Russian-made electromagnetic pulse weapons to disable all the electronic equipment in South Korea.

Announcements like this often come from the office of the office of North Korean ex-girlfriend murderer Kim Jong-Un. Normally we file them in our “we have discovered a unicorn basket” for slow news days but this time they come from the South Korean spooks who have spotted the technology being deployed.

The National Intelligence Service (NIS) said in a report to parliament that the North had purchased Russian electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weaponry to develop its own versions.

EMP weapons damage electronic equipment and can cause damage including to aircraft. It also means that at a press of a button Kim Jong-Un can switch off every tablet and smartphone in the South and show the Imperialist lap-dogs what it is like to live in North Korea.

Kim Jong-Un sees cyber-attacks as an all-purpose weapon along with nuclear weapons and missiles and is trying to hack into smartphones and lure South Koreans into becoming informants.

North Korea is believed to run an elite cyberwarfare unit of 3000 people and staged thousands of cyber attacks against the South in recent years, causing financial losses of about $805 million.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/north-korea-developing-electromagnetic-pulse-weapons-report-20131105-2wxy1.html#ixzz2jwlwvA7w 

North Korean propagandists enlist Adobe

Taking a page out of the Iranian Photoshop propaganda playbook, North Korea has been caught altering images of a military exercise featuring a bunch of landing craft and elite DPRK soldiers storming a snowy beach.

The image has been pulled by Agence France Presse (AFP), citing excessive digital alteration. It seems to show a fleet of eight hovercrafts delivering troops ashore, but on closer inspection it appears that some of the craft were digitally added, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.  It also shows that North Korea is not only short of fuel, cabbage and rice – it desperately needs fresh Photoshop tutorials as well.

AFP photo editor Eric Baradat said a simple examination of photos submitted by KCNA, the North’s state news agency, is usually enough to dismiss their pictures as fakes. However, he added that the North “tends to be better with Photoshop recently”.

Although the North Korean navy operates a couple hundred landing craft, it is widely seen as a bad joke – a service equipped with obsolete hardware that would probably make good museum pieces elsewhere in the world. It would be wiped out in any serious conflict, but it can still pose a serious threat, as demonstrated in the 2010 sinking of a South Korean corvette.

North Korean rhetoric is out of control, but while it can be amusing, let’s not forget the bigger picture. For all its lunacy, the belligerent North Korean regime should be taken seriously. It has a huge standing army, it operates concentration camps and routinely threatens neighbours in range of its missiles.

Perhaps most worryingly, it is steered by a frustrated new leader with access to nuclear weapons who wants to be seen as a worthy successor to Kim Jong Il. 

North Korea kills mobile internet access for visitors

Just a month ago, North Korea started offering 3G internet to the few adventurists who chose to visit the hermit kingdom.

It did not take long for people to start posting Instagram images of the reclusive workers’ paradise and now it seems the party is over. Visitors could buy a SIM card from Koryoling, the state run telco, and easily get internet access in a country that really isn’t a fan of pluralism.

Sadly though, it did not take long for authorities to change their mind, either, and the scheme is done for. It is still unclear why the Juche gang decided to pull the plug, but then again it was equally surprising to see mobile internet offered in the DPRK to begin with.

Perhaps authorities were concerned by the content posted online, fearing that sooner or later someone might post a few Instagram pictures of North Korea’s notorious concentration camps, which make Soviet era Gulags look like an all-inclusive hotel with a nice view of the Mediterranean.

However, it seems long-term visitors can still find a way to access the network and SIM cards can still be purchased at Pyongyang airport and some retail stores for about $70, North Korea Tech reports.