Rodong Sinmun

North Korea just accidentally revealed it only has 28 websites

Quality > quantity?

BEC CREW
22 SEP 2016
 

When North Korea accidentally opened up a server that contained domain name information for every site ending in the local country code .kp, it unwittingly revealed to the world that it has just 28 websites.

To put that in perspective, there are more than 16 million addresses that end with Germany's .de domain name, and roughly 10 million sites end in China's .cn domain name.

 

The leak was first reported by security engineer Matt Bryant, who posted the data on GitHub - a source code repository website. 

The error reportedly occurred on 19 September 2016, when one of North Korea's top level nameservers was accidentally configured to allow global DNS zone transfers. 

"This allows anyone who performs an AXFR (zone transfer) request to the country's ns2.kptc.kp nameserver to get a copy of the nation's top level DNS data," the site reports.

"This was detected by the TLDR Project - an effort to attempt zone transfers against all top level domain (TLD) nameservers every 2 hours and keep a running Github repo with the resulting data. This data gives us a better picture of North Korea's domains and top level DNS."

You can find the entire list of websites at GitHub, but let’s just say that since the information was posted to Reddit earlier today, the sites are struggling to stay online with the sudden influx of traffic.

 

Here’s a taste, from Reddit user Jabberminor:

http://airkoryo.com.kp - Air Koryo, flight ticket website.

http://cooks.org.kp - Korean Dishes, a culinary website with recipes.

http://friend.com.kp - Friend, appears to be a social media site, similar to Yahoo and MSN.

http://gnu.rep.kp - National Unity, appears to be a religious or well-being group.

http://kcna.kp - Korean Central News Agency. 

http://knic.com.kp - Korean People Total Insurance Company. 

http://korfilm.com.kp - KorFilms - Pyongang International Film Festival. 

http://ma.gov.kp - Maritime Administration of Korea. 

http://naenara.com.kp - Naenara, The ‘official' government site about North Korea.

http://nta.gov.kp - The Korean Tourism board.

http://sdprk.org.kp - Sports Chosun, a sports website.

Fortunately, screenshots were recorded before many of the sites went down, so we’ve listed a few below.

While perhaps embarrassing for North Korea, because the world now knows how incredibly limited its online presence actually is, there's nothing here that threatens its national security.

And seeing as only a small portion of its 24.9 million population actually has access to the internet, it's not a huge surprise that there are just 28 public websites.

As Rebecca Hersher reports for NPR, the vast majority of North Koreans do not have any internet access at all. As Secretary of State John Kerry said at an event in South Korea last year, North Korea has the "lowest rate of access in the world, and the most rigid and centralised control".

The leak also doesn't include any of the websites that are hosted by a closed national intranet known as the Kwangmyong or "bright star" - a network of 1,000 to 5,500 government-sanctioned websites, which only a few thousand North Korean citizens are able to access.

Connected via fibre optic cables, the Kwangmyong is only accessible within North Korea's borders. 

Martyn Williams, who runs the North Korea Tech blog, the Kwangmyong is completely unhackable for anyone not in North Korea, and this leak has only found websites that are hosted on the public internet.

"It’s important to note this [leak] isn’t the domain name system for the internal intranet," says Williams. "That isn’t accessible from the internet in any way."

Here are some screenshots:

vok 
gnu

norfilm

rodong

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