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Tag: Pyongyang

Cyberwar: Moscow? Beijing? Pyongyang?

Friday, 16 September, 2016 0 Comments

“Over the past year or two, someone has been probing the defenses of the companies that run critical pieces of the Internet. These probes take the form of precisely calibrated attacks designed to determine exactly how well these companies can defend themselves, and what would be required to take them down.” Says who? Says the Chief Technology Officer of Resilient, an IBM company that “empowers cyber security teams to transform their security posture.”

That CTO is none other than Bruce Schneier, and when he talks, people listen. When he issues a warning, people should act. In his blog post Someone Is Learning How to Take Down the Internet, Schneier echoes the conflict of a previous era: “It feels like a nation’s military cybercommand trying to calibrate its weaponry in the case of cyberwar. It reminds me of the US’s Cold War program of flying high-altitude planes over the Soviet Union to force their air-defense systems to turn on, to map their capabilities.”

Fancy Bear But this is not the work of a data fundamentalist like Julian Assange or a data thief such as Fancy Bear, Schneier believes. To him, it feels like a large nation state is at work. “China or Russia would be my first guesses,” he says, although he accepts that the identity of the country of origin for the attacks now being mounted could be disguised.

All this reminds the avid reader of espionage thrillers of the time when a rogue Russian spy warned an MI5 agent of a plot to hack into a top-secret US-UK military satellite system. Tomorrow, here, we follow Liz Carlyle to Geneva as she tracks the moles.


The Interview solution: YouTube and BitTorrent

Monday, 22 December, 2014 0 Comments

“We would still like the public to see this movie, absolutely,” Michael Lynton, chief executive of Sony Entertainment, told CNN yesterday. Asked about releasing The Interview via YouTube, he replied: “That’s certainly an option and certainly one thing we will consider.” Last week, the director Judd Apatow predicted the film would be available on BitTorrent within six weeks. BitTorrent claims to have more than 170 million monthly active users and its motto is: “Get started now with free, unlimited downloading.” How would Pyongyang deal with that?


The Kim family’s tyranny

Friday, 3 May, 2013 0 Comments

Pae Jun-ho, known in the US as Kenneth Bae, was arrested last year after entering North Korea as a tourist. Earlier this week, he was sentenced to 15 years hard labour for alleged anti-government crimes. His real “crime”? Taking pictures of starving children, say his supporters. On the face of it, then, we have what seems like another provocation, but the harsh sentencing might actually be an attempt to draw US negotiators to Pyongyang, which would give North Korea a propaganda victory, and an occasion for talks on the wider issues.

North Korean poster

But for talks to achieve something, the parties have to be rational, and that’s not the case with the North Koreans, as Ian Buruma points out in a Project Syndicate piece titled The Trouble With North Korea. Snippet: “North Korea is essentially a theocracy. Some elements are borrowed from Stalinism and Maoism, but much of the Kim cult owes more to indigenous forms of shamanism: human gods who promise salvation (it is no accident that the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and his Unification Church came from Korea, too).”

Buruma’s conclusion is not exactly uplifting, either:

The tragedy of Korea is that no one really wishes to change the status quo: China wants to keep North Korea as a buffer state, and fears millions of refugees in the event of a North Korean collapse; the South Koreans could never afford to absorb North Korea in the way that West Germany absorbed the broken German Democratic Republic; and neither Japan nor the US would relish paying to clean up after a North Korean implosion, either.

And so an explosive situation will remain explosive, North Korea’s population will continue to suffer famines and tyranny, and words of war will continue to fly back and forth across the 38th parallel. So far, they are just words. But small things — a shot in Sarajevo, as it were — can trigger a catastrophe. And North Korea still has those nuclear bombs.

Still, we mustn’t get depressed. Over at Foreign Policy, they’re taking a wry look, in the style of BuzzFeed, at the Kim family racket with 7 Things North Korea Is Really Good At.


The Manchurian Candidate in London

Thursday, 4 April, 2013 0 Comments

“The escalating tension over North Korea, which has led to nuclear tests by the regime, is a product of a long term increase in sanctions and other measures against the North Korea, and a recent surge of US and South Korean military activity in the area.” So speaks Pyongyang, right? Wrong! That’s, actually, a London-based […]

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