North Korean Hacker Activity and New “Red Star” Operating System
As tensions flare on the Korean Peninsula one can only assume that the infamous N. Korean hackers are hard at work. For a long time N. Korean hackers have been very active attacking US and S. Korean sites. N. Korea has specifically trained cyber warriors and some reports say that the N. Koreans are getting very good at what they do and are increasing their attacks.
According to a recent post on strategypage.com:
Attacks on South Korean data networks were up 20 percent last year, with hundreds of serious attempts each day, to hack in and steal defense secrets. More North Korean locations are showing up as the source of these attacks. This appears to solve the growing mystery about what the mysterious North Korean Cyber War units were up to.
The North Korean hackers are very stealthy, but this may be due to the fact that they get their internet connections from China and could just be masquerading as Chinese hackers. Could some of our attacks that we blame on China actually be from N. Korea?
Also, it appears that North Korea, like China, is moving its core IT systems to a modified Unix Operating System called “Red Star”. So what is this closely guarded secure OS like? Well, according to an article on the BBC, Red Star was discovered when a Russian Blogger bought a copy for $5, well so much for super-secret. Even here they are like China, much had been made about the secrecy of the Chinese “Kylin” secure OS, but the software could be downloaded from a Chinese site (Not sure who would be crazy enough to do that) and after being analyzed appeared to be just a modified version of FreeBSD.
According to reports, Red Star has a Windows XP style interface, uses open source versions of Microsoft Office software (OpenOffice I assume), and uses Pigeon for e-mail and Firefox for surfing. And according to the BBC, “The Red Star operating system uses a popular Korean folk song as its start-up music and numbers years using a calendar which starts counting from the birth of state founder Kim Il-sung, making 2010 the 99th year.” When this is analyzed, I would not be surprised if it too turns out to be FreeBSD under the hood.
North Korea tends to be an extension of China. I remember watching a report where a few western journalists tried to get access into N. Korea. When they could not get the permission to enter, they heard that they might be able to get into N. Korea from China. They went to China and not only got passes to enter N. Korea but got tours and everything.
As things unfold on the peninsula, and time passes, more information will be released about the N. Korean hacker activity.