back to article North Korean operating system is a surveillance state's tour de force

Fresh light has been shed on North Korea's Red Star OS, which – we're told – silently tracks the exchange of files between computers. It was discovered in July that the software appends a fingerprint derived from the computer's hardware to files when they are opened. Further analysis of the Nork government's operating system …

  1. Roo

    Presumably Hameron, Theresa May & Hillary Clinton will be banning everything but Red Star OS in the near future.

    1. Flywheel Silver badge

      We have nothing to fear .. they'll tender it out to someone that Dave knows and they'll produce the usual software fsckup offering. Either that or they'll license Red Star at vast expense to the taxpayer.

    2. NotBob
      Black Helicopters

      Presumably we'll have the Red, White, and Blue Star. One concludes it will be less functional, less stable, and the antivirus will only look for bad words in English.

  2. Efros
    Joke

    RI Ass. of America and MP Ass. of America

    Will be examining this quite carefully for future media players methinks.

  3. graeme leggett Silver badge

    A quote stood out

    "They did a pretty good job in building an architecture which is self-protecting,"

    "Self-perpetuating" is the phrase I would use, like the Kim dynasty.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A quote stood out

      Like a "self-healing minefield"

      Can the Chinese gummit please do something?

      When this goes down, it will be a bigger show than ISIL-mediated collapse of the Middle East.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: A quote stood out

        "Can the Chinese gummit please do something?"

        That may have already been accounted for

        "The antivirus scanner, scnprc"

        scnprc? SCaN Peoples Republic of China?

  4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Derived from Fedora

    So is this actually Hedorah Linux?

    Good old writer Blair would be proud to have got everything so right here, except that MiniTruth is on people's desk, not only across town.

  5. Adrian Midgley 1

    Current UK gov likely to quite like this...

    Usual problems apply.

  6. Adrian Midgley 1

    Plain ASCII Text files

    have much to commend them in many ways.

    1. IglooDude

      Re: Plain ASCII Text files

      Files in American Standard Code for Information Interchange format? It is clearly a Stuxnet-esque plot, and is properly regarded as malware within RedStarOS with re-education penalties for those who would persist in using "ASCII".

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Plain ASCII Text files

        I didn't know 7-bit character files still existed?

  7. linicks
    Holmes

    Source code?

    So did they get hold of the source code for all this - or just back engineer (i.e. is the OS a binary only distro?). And what about the kernel - have they built backdoors/spies into that?

    Damn clever these Chinese Koreans.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Source code?

      If not even root is allowed to get at the antivirus pattern matcher, that indicates kernel changes. Sort of like El Capitan's System Integrity Protection which denies access for everyone including root to certain system files.

      1. linicks
        Thumb Up

        Re: Source code?

        "If not even root is allowed to get at the antivirus pattern matcher, that indicates kernel changes."

        Right, I understand that, but what owns the processes? Just running in the kernel ring? Something must control them, and if you can get root (maybe they shut that off?), and then still can't control the system, maybe you ain't root.

        I guess (never, ever guess) ID 0 is turned off to userland, which would support a kernel hack.

        1. boltar Silver badge

          Re: Source code?

          "and if you can get root (maybe they shut that off?), and then still can't control the system, maybe you ain't root."

          Why? The kernel can do what it likes. The root user isn't magic , its just user id zero. The kernel can simply refuse to do anything to the state of a file or process once its created/started regardless of the user id trying to modify it.

  8. dotdavid

    "Any media files found by scnprc that contain any of the listed strings are automatically deleted."

    Perhaps a cyber warfare opportunity to introduce malware which randomly inserts such strings into random critical files?

    1. linicks

      "Perhaps a cyber warfare opportunity to introduce malware which randomly inserts such strings into random critical files?"

      Welcome to 1998:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIH_%28computer_virus%29

  9. Mephistro Silver badge
    Devil

    I'm gonna download this shit...

    ... and try it in a VM. I may even allow it to access the Internet. I'm curious about how well these embedded snooping tools will cope with Tor links, compressors+encription, misnaming, ... .

    Hmmm... does this RedStar include hard-coded credentials and passwords?

    Luckily for the North Koreans, nobody is interested in stealing their IP or their wealth! ;-)

    1. Crazy Operations Guy

      Re: I'm gonna download this shit...

      If I were you, I'd destroy the machine the VM was hosted on afterwards. An obviously malicious piece of software like this would be able to detect that its running in a VM and would be able to attack the hyper-visor and the underlying hardware. Given the strong cooperation between North Korea's and China's cyber-warfare organizations, I would be surprised if Red Star didn't contain any currently unknown exploits. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if it attempted to install malicious firmware on your network equipment and every other machine on your network. Its a full OS that doesn't need to hide its malicious intentions and given that it weighs in at 2.5 GB for the install media, it can hide masses of exploit code.

      So I would purchase an old machine from a repair shop to test that OS on, then turn everything that ever touched the machine into scrap as the firmwares would be riddled with malware the second the OS started. A cheap machine would probably work better anyway as older hardware rules in the area and the OS would be optimized for it.

      As far as connecting to the internet, please don't. Unless you have a fully equipped lab set up to study botnets and the like, you shouldn't subject innocent internet users to the potential danger of your machine becoming a botnet slave. Much like how studying deadly diseases must be done in a highly secured lab and not done by getting yourself infected and continuing to walk among the public.

      1. linicks
        Headmaster

        Re: I'm gonna download this shit...

        Crikey - and THINK of the children!

      2. NomNomNom

        Re: I'm gonna download this shit...

        what if I just don't give a fuck if the chinese take over my computer? like seriously that's some first world problem shit

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: I'm gonna download this shit...

          "what if I just don't give a fuck if the chinese take over my computer? like seriously that's some first world problem shit"

          The problem is that if the Chinese don't target you, they'll use you anyway. Much like how the Chinese Cannon works.

      3. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: I'm gonna download this shit...

        You're talking a Red Pill exploit aka a hypervisor attack. Something like that would make the technology news since AFAIK no malware has actually been able to break out of the VM and into the hypervisor. There's been a lot of conjecture about it, but nothing in the wild as of yet.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: I'm gonna download this shit...

          AFAIK no malware has actually been able to break out of the VM and into the hypervisor

          I'm afraid you don't know far enough. See for example:

          https://www.insinuator.net/2013/05/analysis-of-hypervisor-breakouts/

          Admittedly, terminology in this area is sloppy, with various types of hypervisors and various degrees of "breaking out" or "escaping" conflated. But there is a pretty long list of exploits that let a process running in a VM execute code in another VM or a host OS, such as this year's VENOM attack. There may well be some which also successfully target bare-metal (type-1) hypervisors, though I don't offhand know of any.

  10. Tubz
    Joke

    Cameron already ordering it on all government, local authority, library, hospital and school computers and will soon be compulsory in his NWO, where only the select few are above the law and have freedom !

  11. phil dude
    Linux

    calm down...

    if you are using Windoze or $Mac, you already know you are being spied on, so this is propaganda.

    I'm using Linux built from scratch, so maybe only spied on by the bits that are not FOSS (looking at YOU Nvidia and the somewhat crufty bios).

    The irony here (for those that want to see it), is that NK used a FOSS product to make a Govt Malware product. By logical extension, if you are using non-FOSS, it must already be Govt Malware....

    This is a wink ---> ;-)

    P.

    1. The Specialist

      Re: calm down...

      You're assuming your C compiler is not rigged in the first place!

      http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?TheKenThompsonHack

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    North Korean operating system is a surveillance state's tour de force ...

    ... So it's a rebadged version of Windows 10 then?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: North Korean operating system is a surveillance state's tour de force ...

      ... So it's a rebadged version of Windows 10 then?

      No, this is actually stable - you know, the elusive property which never made it into Windows (because you'd never buy the upgrade) but easily established by a 3rd world country..

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Surveillance State

    Now that kind of tracking feature wouldn't ever happen here in the West, would it?

    http://www.theinternetpatrol.com/eff-proves-secret-embedding-of-machine-identification-code-in-printer-output/

  14. Danny 2 Silver badge

    I realise The Intercept is playing catch-up, but it is timely:

    Recently Bought a Windows Computer? Microsoft Probably Has Your Encryption Key

    1. Crazy Operations Guy

      The article is correct in spirit, but not in actual practice. Microsoft doesn't actually have your encryption key, just a passkey to access the encryption key that is stored on the encrypted device. Its stored on a system-reserved area of the disk. If those sectors where the key is actually were inaccessible for one reason or another, the files on the disk would be unreadable. It also fails to points out that that key only controls access to decrypt the boot volume of the machine. The keys used for NTFS file-encryption are left on the local system, as well as the keys used for any other purpose.

      Of course "Microsoft might have the key to recover the encryption key to your boot volume" isn't quite as alarmist, so I understand why they went with that particular headline.

      The point of the device encryption is to protect the information on the system from being accessed after it was lost or stolen, not to protect the user from elaborate state-sponsored attacks or corrupt governments. And for that purpose it works quite well for the average consumer. Anyone that has a need to protect the data even further would already have another, specialized piece of software for that purpose, or really should.

      1. linicks

        "The point of the device encryption is to protect the information on the system from being accessed after it was lost or stolen, not to protect the user from elaborate state-sponsored attacks or corrupt governments. And for that purpose it works quite well for the average consumer. Anyone that has a need to protect the data even further would already have another, specialized piece of software for that purpose, or really should."

        Biggest load of bollocks and tripe I have ever read.

        1. How do you "lose" a laptop or whatever? If you do, you are an idiot.

        2. If the above are stolen with serious, and I mean serious data on it, then you are an idiot for having serious data on it.

        People are sheeple. Do I carry my passport around waiting to to mugged? Do I have all my details of bank accounts and what-not in my wallet that I will accidently "lose" or be stolen?

        No, of course not. So why should anything change from that because it's electronic?

        1. Danny 2 Silver badge

          Lots of people carry their passports around, for example when leaving the country or trying to cash their dole giro.

          Lots of people lose their laptops, to theft fire or just misplacing them.

          A wee tip. Trying to convey any idea on a public forum by labelling every normal person as 'sheeple' is hardly endearing and doesn't make you look big or clever, quite the reverse. Trust me, I have malt whisky.

          1. linicks

            "Lots of people lose their laptops, to theft fire or just misplacing them."

            OK, fire isn't a problem - no one will get it. But how the hell do you 'misplace' an item that cost a few hundred quid or more? Maybe I am too old and look after my stuff that I worked hard for, rather than the throw away/get a new one on insurance/get a new one on credit attitudes of people today.

            1. 9Rune5

              "But how the hell do you 'misplace' an item"

              How are you able to watch over your stuff 24x7?

              Look, when travelling you either leave your laptop in your hotel room (my 15" usually won't fit in the room safe) where the cleaning staff (and just about anybody who pretend to live in your room) can get at it, or you bring it along while exploring the new city you're visiting so it can be mugged.

              Or how about those times when they did not let you bring your laptop as carry-on and you had to chuck it with your checked luggage? I have almost lost some luggage a few times (had to wait three weeks for two bags once), so I know it is possible to have things 'disappear'.

              I've never lost a laptop though, but that is more down to dumb luck than anything else. Plus I probably spend way too much time in my hotel rooms to begin with. Normal people are probably out and about more than me. OTOH, there was that time when I had to fight off a monkey using a tripod... I could have lost some valuable stuff that day, but thankfully I realized a metal tripod is a great weapon. Or those two times I had to run from an elephant (not the same elephant), but then again: The elephants did not care about my possessions (unlike the monkey), so there was that. A baboon once made off with my lunchbox though, with me standing right in the middle. I could have smacked the car door on its head, but I felt my lunch wasn't worth killing for. Plus, he had sharp teeth and was surprisingly brazen. I was used to baboons being rather shy, so he took me completely by surprise.

              But hey, please share your tips on protecting your gear.

              1. toughluck

                Airlines won't allow the laptop to be checked because of lithium batteries. Same goes for any other reasonably recent/modern gadget.

                To be honest, your anecdotes concerning the African bush don't really translate to any 'normal' situation. And if you lost a laptop to an elephant, I don't think anyone would get any use out of it. Same goes for monkeys monkeying around with your stuff.

                Seriously, if you have some seriously important stuff on your laptop or whatever and you wouldn't kill an animal over it, I honestly don't think it qualifies as important enough (although I do realize some would kill another person over their gadget sooner than an animal).

                1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                  "Airlines won't allow the laptop to be checked because of lithium batteries. Same goes for any other reasonably recent/modern gadget."

                  Most laptop batteries are removeable and thus can be taken out so the rest of the laptop can be checked. Otherwise, you have a dilemma when you're told you can't put the laptop in to EITHER the carry-on (over the limit) OR the checked baggage (restricted contents). And since the laptop probably also contains the VPN keys, leaving it behind isn't an option, either.

                2. 9Rune5

                  "Airlines won't allow the laptop to be checked because of lithium batteries"

                  I wasn't aware of that. It certainly was not the case ten years ago when a colleague was ordered to put his laptop in checked luggage. Rules and regulations change though, so I will take your word for it. But then again: Rules and regulations change. Tomorrow the powers that be, might ask you to check your laptop again, because bringing li-ion batteries with you gives you (and the terrorists) free access to dangerous chemicals that are better kept out of harms way. (the more sane option imo, specially given the paranoid rules that limit people from carrying more than half a liter of drinking water)

                  "if you have some seriously important stuff on your laptop or whatever and you wouldn't kill an animal over it"

                  Granted, that particular baboon, to my untrained eyes, looked okay. But my guide told me you never can tell. It could be infected with rabies and you might not survive the fight. So yeah... Killing the animal is an option, but risk one's own life..? And allow me to reiterate: The animal did not behave the same way others of its kind had in my past meetings with them. It was unexpected.

                  There is still the lingering question of where to keep your stash..? Do you bring your valuables with you, on your person, at all times? A 15" laptop dangling off a chain suspended from your neck? How does that not spell 'disaster waiting to happen'?

                  1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                    "I wasn't aware of that. It certainly was not the case ten years ago when a colleague was ordered to put his laptop in checked luggage. Rules and regulations change though, so I will take your word for it."

                    That was before we started getting reports of exploding iPods and so on. Then came the reports of Li-Ion and lithium metal batteries (those AA batteries meant to go in digital cameras) combusting spontaneously, even when not in use, due to the batteries being chemically active even when at rest. Look at the controversy around the 787. Plus lithium is a pretty touchy element chemically: it can react to moisture (just like sodium, one row down on the periodic table). And an in-flight fire is one of the biggest risks for an airliner, so anything that creates a fire risk is taken seriously.

              2. druck
                Facepalm

                Re: 9Rune5

                "A baboon once made off with my lunchbox though, with me standing right in the middle. I could have smacked the car door on its head, but I felt my lunch wasn't worth killing for."

                Killing it? Dream on, a baboon would have smacked you straight back, and taken a big chunk out of you as keepsake.

      2. Danny 2 Silver badge

        "The point of the device encryption is to protect the information on the system from being accessed after it was lost or stolen, not to protect the user from elaborate state-sponsored attacks or corrupt governments."

        True, but it really should be explicit about that health warning. And where do you draw the line between a script-kiddie and an APT? For example, do the local police and council have access to my data if I trust MS encryption? Yes, they apparently do. And they shouldn't.

  15. x 7 Silver badge

    so this is a good example of why open source software is a liability. The Norks could only do this because of the openness of FOSS. They could never have done it with closed source software such as Windows or MacOS. Seriously, open source software should be banned as a threat to the free world.

    Taking a different tangent, why has the Nork government not been prosecuted for breaching the open source licences? Or have they made the amended source code available?

    1. Crazy Operations Guy

      Licenses are contracts, not laws. Countries are under no obligation to respect civil agreements within other countries (This is the whole point of the world-wide copyright legislation, like TPP). Besides, North Korea is by far the largest counterfeiter of currency in the world, which is an international crime, yet nothing can be done about that, a little software license doesn't even appear on their radar. Beside, there are several western companies that regularly violate the GPL without repercussions as it is.

    2. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Hey, the DPRK also produce their own PCs (unlike backwards Britain where your best computer is a Pi that doesn't even a keyboard). Those North Korean laptops also have USB ports, so why not blame the USB Implementers Forum? Plus they'd never have nuclear weapons if Einstein hadn't blabbed, and they'd all float off into space if Newton had kept quiet about gravity.

      If you really want to damage the Norks then go post on their forums. Your amazing stupidity is a liability to the free world.

      1. 404 Silver badge

        Hey, don't disparage the mighty Raspi2 - I have six of them running 150' automatic truss table lines...

        ;)

  16. DougS Silver badge

    Interesting possibilities for someone wanting to take down the regime

    Assuming you can get the ability to inject files into a computer in NK, and are able to fake the signature of a high ranking person's machine, you could create an incriminating file, sign it as if it was viewed by them, which once it became known to the right person would probably cause them to 'disappear'. Do this with enough people and eventually Dear Leader will have executed enough high ranking officials that those remaining decide on a coup before they are added to the list.

    Not saying anyone should do this, since whoever takes over could be worse making it a risky strategy. But I have to think that the CIA is at least working on this sort of capability, and if they get it would try it out on a few low ranking officials as proof of concept. The CIA always thinks they know what they are doing when it comes to regime change, despite very ample evidence to the contrary.

    1. Crazy Operations Guy

      Re: Interesting possibilities for someone wanting to take down the regime

      Well, JongUn seems to be executing enough people already, and is all but demanding a military coup. Executing generals who had served under the leadership of Il-Sung and remember all the positive things he had done for the country vs the massive damage that the last two regimes have done.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Interesting possibilities for someone wanting to take down the regime

      "Assuming you can get the ability to inject files into a computer in NK, and are able to fake the signature of a high ranking person's machine, you could create an incriminating file, sign it as if it was viewed by them, which once it became known to the right person would probably cause them to 'disappear'."

      I think the way the system is designed, that's very risky, as you could just as easily commingle your signature with the target's, making it easy to tell it's a fake. Remember, the signature process runs within PID0, so you can't get around that without changing or compromising the kernel, and as the article notes, it takes precautions to prevent that. I wouldn't put them above integrity and signature checking.

    3. Telboy

      Re: Interesting possibilities for someone wanting to take down the regime

      When will people learn that deposing dictators, tyrants and despots rarely has a happy outcome. Yugoslavia Egypt Libya and Iraq spring to mind.

      1. That Awful Puppy

        Re: Interesting possibilities for someone wanting to take down the regime

        To be ever so slightly pedantic, Yugoslavia started going downhill when in 1980 Tito decided to pop his clogs after a few decades of surprisingly effective state-building, drinking and whoring. Succession planning, alas, wasn't among his priorities.

  17. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Joke

    Could be awkward...

    > AnGae.dat contains UTF-16 strings of text in several different languages – phrases that, for example, translate into "strike with fists," "punishment," and “hungry". Any media files found by scnprc that contain any of the listed strings are automatically deleted.

    So any attempt to advertise my new boxing gym with Hungry Horse franchise is probably doomed?

  18. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    "watermarks" vs. "appended"

    "...watermarks can stack up inside a file – a new one is appended..."

    The word 'watermark' typically means something like subtly changing the least significant bits of a media file such that it's unnoticeable, but these bits form a resilient pattern that can be detected and the hidden data extracted. The file size does not change. Like a watermark on a paper based item doesn't require extra paper.

    What's being described In the article is more like a hash and/or fingerprint that's being appended to the file. That's not a watermark.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: "watermarks" vs. "appended"

      You're confusing watermarking with steganography, as the latter is one way to robustly and covertly apply the former. Because this process occurs behind the scenes in the OS itself, transparent to the user, possibly by way of an alternate data stream, I would consider this a form of covert fingerprinting: that's watermarking in my book.

      In any event, a series of fingerprints can be used in a technique known as source tracking, which is what this system apparently does to provide an audit trail of where files get transferred.

  19. Gruntled

    What is he holding?

    It looks like Fearless Leader is holding a pair of binoculars...could this be right?

    Perhaps the binoculars are the Red Star OS's implementation of a Page>View>Zoom function?

    That would explain why many officers that have gathered around seem to be giggling. That or a Steam game just crashed the computer.

    1. AdamAdam

      Re: What is he holding?

      They're clearly playing bingo!

      Cornwall style bingo.

      That's what the notepads are for.

  20. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    A serious question...

    What's to stop an industrious, ingenious, talented, & bored hacker group to neuter the official OS into something that LOOKS like the official one but doesn't ACT like it?

    What's to stop someone from neutering the OS (so it doesn't know it's been altered; so it doesn't append the data trail to files; so it doesn't scan/delete files, etc) and go around with the altered OS on LiveUSB to every internet cafe, library with a computer, or any personal/public machine they can find, reboot to the Live media, install the new OS, and let it overwrite the old one?

    Imagine all the "fun" the North Korean government would have in trying to play an infinite game of Whack-A-Mole with all the script kiddy "hackers" that wandered around town with LiveUSB copies of the new OS, installing it everywhere they went, leaving copies for others to find & utilize, and generally wrecking havoc for the Powers That Be.

    I know the NK government has tried to lock it down to be impregnable/unchangeable by mere mortals, but anything one person can code, another person can tweak with enough time, motivation, & resources.

    So what's to keep anti-government hackers from tweaking the official OS into something that merely looks official, replacing all the official copies they encounter, and spreading the ability for the proverbial Joe Public to do the same?

    1. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Re: A serious question...

      Perhaps they have also imported UEFI Secure Boot, and made it mandatory on every computer in the country! That combination would be the perfect privacy nightmare: An OS that tattles and reports on you, and deletes all documents with non-approved words in them, and no way to install any alternative.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: A serious question...

        If UEFI secure boot with a custom key were required, then how are the researchers fiddling with it right now? Are they running it on Nork hardware, too (which BTW is x86-based, so no built-in security features via the CPU)? With home-grown hardware, even without EFI, it can be secured with a custom BIOS that has signature-checking capabilities (as this is a one-off, compatibility need not be an issue).

        1. MacroRodent Silver badge

          Re: A serious question...

          If UEFI secure boot with a custom key were required, then how are the researchers fiddling with it right now?

          Running the OS on a computer (or more likely a virtual machine in this case) that you fully control is much easier than trying to run an alternative OS on a computer that has been locked down.

    2. Karl Vegar

      Re: A serious question...

      This IS NorK we're talking about.

      There's some 2.5 gb in the install image. What are the odds theres a little undocumented "I'm still compliant" heartbeat feature or two in there somewhere? And what do you think might happen if the heartbeart flatlines while the ISP still show traffic on your line (using a familiar mac?)

      Then there's penalties. I'm guessing loss of PC privileges and some labour on first offence for a script kid of good family. For willfull distribution, I guess the hard part is over when you get to the firing squad.

      1. toughluck

        Re: A serious question...

        Internet cafes in NorK? Seriously?

    3. E 2
      Black Helicopters

      Re: A serious question...

      I doubt the NorK gov't distributes the source code for their kernel modifications. Given the NorK gov't appears to have implemented super-root level access for the security and tracking code, without the source how is a hacker supposed to subvert the system?

      Not to mention the nature and scope of the punishment if caught.

  21. E 2

    opprc - the "oppress process"?

  22. toughluck

    One thing is mind-boggling

    If the anti-virus deletes files that contain any officially disallowed terms, that still doesn't work against pig latin (or its Korean equivalent), and at the same time, it cripples the government. Maybe that's a good thing?

    "Punishment for John Doe is death."

    *ping*file deleted*authorities notified

    Any official army documents that mention fighting (as in strategy)? File deleted.

    Official document to prevent starvation? File deleted.

    And so on. How about a virus that appends any of the naughty words to every file? Everything deleted?

    1. DocJames

      Re: One thing is mind-boggling

      I suspect there will be some Orwellian official phrase for hunger, eg Project for Nationwide Satiety Achievement. Same for the other terms.

      And can I say how excited I am to recently find translations in all news about the Norks, rather than the transliterations that were previously used in a hamfisted colonial way to imply inferiority.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: One thing is mind-boggling

      You fail to understand the Nork government is in a whole different world from the plebs. The systems running on the Nork government computers are bound to be totally different from Red Star.

      1. toughluck

        Re: One thing is mind-boggling

        Oh, I understand that totally.

        However, the plebes have no access to computers, let alone any networks, therefore there is no need to spend any effort on an operating system. If you break the law by owning a personal computer, why would you go to the lengths of installing a state-sponsored OS on it?

        Also, certain pieces of the OS (watermarking files to track their ownership) are aimed strictly at data sources at government level.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: One thing is mind-boggling

          Not necessarily. What about subversive documents cut from scratch? Fingerprinting and source tracking would be useful there, too.

  23. RobThBay

    pen and paper

    I was going to comment about the fact that the high tech military folks in the photo are all taking notes with pen and paper. Then I realized that's not such a dumb idea after all. Pen and paper notes can't be hacked remotely.

    :)

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: pen and paper

      Hidden cameras. They can copy pen-and-paper notes remotely.

  24. Graham Bartlett

    "In grave trouble"?

    In NK, surely the last word is unnecessary.

  25. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge
    Stop

    Strived?

    Strove!

    Please don't let the US inability to use past tenses infect El Reg and pollute that bastion of proper English as what she is spoke!.

    (part serious. My pendant side doesn't surface often but past tense failures will do it every time.)

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