Florian Grunow and Niklaus Schiess downloaded the sourcecode for Red Star OS, North Korea's homegrown, paranoid fork of Red Hat's Fedora, a flavor of GNU/Linux. The researchers analyzed the OS and presented their findings to the thirty second Chaos Communications Congress in Hamburg yesterday.
The OS is a marvel of paranoid terribleness, with lots of marvellously bad features. The one I was most interested in is its covert insertion of watermarks into every file that it touches, either on the OS's launch disk or removable USB sticks. This is used to track down North Koreans who share illicit media files with their friends and mark them out for punishment in the country's notorious gulags.
Illegal media is usually passed person-to-person in North Korea using USB sticks and microSD cards, making it hard for the government to track where they come from.
Red Star tackles this by tagging, or watermarking, every document or media file on a computer or on any USB stick connected to it. That means that all files can be traced.
“It’s definitely privacy invading. It’s not transparent to the user,” Grunow said. “It’s done stealthily and touches files you haven’t even opened.”
Nat Kretchun, an authority on the spread of foreign media in North Korea, said such efforts reflected Pyongyang’s realisation that it needs “new ways to update their surveillance and security procedures to respond to new types of technology and new sources of information”.
North Korea's 'paranoid' computer operating system revealed
Nathan Davis writes, "When you shuffle a deck, it rearranges the order of the cards and I got wondering what that looked like.
40 years of Reaganomic sociopathy has managed to convince hundreds of millions of otherwise sensible people that big, social problems are caused by their personal choices, and not (say) by rapacious corporations that corrupt the regulatory process in order to get away with literal and figurative murder. The Intercept's Sharon Lerner made a short doc […]
Mike Lake's mashup of Lizzo's "Truth Hurts" with "Scales and Arpeggios" from Disney's 1970 animated feature "The Aristocats" is plain fabulous. Lizzo plays the scene far better than Eva Gabor ever did. (via Kottke)
There are a lot of different language apps out there because nobody learns anything the same exact way – especially not something as complex as a new language. For some people, the best way is to dive in and start talking, but that’s easier said than done if you’re not around those natives you aspire […]
There’s movie merch and then there are artifacts – one-of-a-kind items for the true fans only. These 11 items definitely fall into the latter category. We’ve unearthed movie art, props and other fan touchstones from the major nerd franchises of the last 50 years. Gaze upon these Star Wars and Marvel collectibles and don’t worry. […]
No matter what kind of office you work at, there’s probably an Excel expert in it. And no wonder: Businesses are still discovering uses for one of Microsoft’s flagship software suites beyond just bare-bones spreadsheets. Make October the month you become invaluable at work by taking one of these boot camps in Excel and its […]