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LG V30 Signature Edition launches in South Korea with Android 8.0 Oreo, ceramic body, 6 GB RAM

31d23_lg-v30-signature-edition-840x543 LG V30 Signature Edition launches in South Korea with Android 8.0 Oreo, ceramic body, 6 GB RAM


It feels like flagship phones have gotten progressively more expensive recently, perhaps more so than we’ve grown used to. Yet while the likes of Samsung and Apple have pushed the boundaries on pricing, particularly over the past few months, there has always been a higher tier reserved for elite, special edition devices that offer a luxury experience for those with money to burn.

The latest addition to this upper echelon is the LG V30 “Signature Edition”, which goes on sale today exclusively in South Korea. LG has confirmed that it is only producing 300 units of this limited edition version of its flagship phablet, making it quite a collector’s piece for Android aficionados.

As you might expect, the extra-special model won’t be cheap. The folks at ZDNet report that buyers will be expected to pay 2 million won (roughly $1,800) for the privilege of owning the rare hardware. By comparison, that’s more than the iPhone X (1.63 million won, $1,450), the base model Note 8 (1.09 million won, $965), and the vanilla LG V30, which sells for 949,300 KRW ($842).

LG V30 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8

So, if you can by some incredible miracle get hold of one, is the Signature version worth the extra cash? Personally, I’d lean towards no, as the upgrades on offer, while quite enticing on the surface, don’t exactly make up for the $1,000 price jump over the regular V30.

The biggest change is the phone’s new zirconium ceramic plate build which replaces the standard V30’s glass body. LG says this will make the phone – which is available in Black or White finishes – even more resistant to scratches and marks over time. The Signature Edition’s only other design flourish is the option of having LG laser engrave your name on the phone’s rear. Fancy!

On the hardware front, the ultra-premium phone receives a slight RAM bump from 4 GB to 6 GB and offers 256 GB expandable storage as standard. Otherwise, though, you’re looking at the same specs and features found on the regular V30, including a 6-inch P-OLED FullVision display, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 SoC, and a wide-angle dual-camera (16 MP and 13 MP sensors).

The Signature Edition phone – a moniker LG uses for its marquee home entertainment products – also runs Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. While it won’t be too long now until Oreo rolls out to all V30 devices, it’s nevertheless a nice bonus for those shelling out the extra cash. The same could also be said of the Bang Olufsen wired earphones and H5 Bluetooth earphones that come bundled with every purchase.

What do you make of the LG V30 Signature Edition? Is it worth the lavish asking price? Let us know in the comments.

Russia Is Now Providing North Korea With Internet: What That Could Mean For Cyber Warfare

9de03_960x0 Russia Is Now Providing North Korea With Internet: What That Could Mean For Cyber Warfare

(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Amid diplomatic fallout between North Korea and China, its only major trade partner, Russia is positioning itself to be a stronger North Korean ally, reaching out to provide North Korea with an internet connection. As a result, Russia may embolden North Korea to launch more destructive cyberattacks. Stronger cooperation between the two raises the possibility that they will even collaborate on cyberattacks themselves, which would be devastating for the international community.

On October 1st, 38North and Dyn Research reported that Russia began providing an internet connection to North Korea. The Russian-provided infrastructure gives Pyongyang 60% more bandwidth and a second connection to the outside world ; China’s Unicom company had been North Korea’s sole internet provider since 2010. The construction of the new internet connection follows a September 27th meeting between DPRK and Russian foreign ministry officials in Moscow. Russia’s extension of an internet connection to North Korea, as well as its reopening of a ferry route between the two, may indicate that Russia will seek sanction loopholes to strengthen their partnership.

More on Forbes: The Likely Reason North Korea Has Stopped Its Ballistic Missile Tests — For Now

North Korea’s turn towards Russia follows Pyongyang’s aggressive nuclear testing and vociferous behavior pushing China and its investments out of the country. After North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, the UN Security Council passed the strictest sanctions yet on the isolated country. As a result of these sanctions, China is due to close North Korean businesses operating within China and end joint ventures between the two within 120 days.

9de03_960x0 Russia Is Now Providing North Korea With Internet: What That Could Mean For Cyber Warfare

(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

China’s compliance with new sanctions is not the only sign of tension with the DPRK. This year, Pyongyang timed its missile and nuclear tests to correspond with international meetings hosted in China. North Korea’s actions seemingly were meant to embarrass China, who it believes is siding with Washington. Tensions between North Korea and China have been accelerating since Kim Jong-un took power in 2011. The following year, North Korean authorities lashed out against one of Beijing’s largest mining and steel-producing companies, Xiyang Group, with whom it had signed a $40 billion deal to build an iron ore mine. North Korean officials “used violent methods” against Xiyang staff, such as depriving them of food and water, and smashing windows. North Korea eventually annulled the contract with Xiyang, after deporting employees in the dead of night.

Related: China’s Biggest Problem: How Do You Solve A Problem Like North Korea?

The warming of North Korean-Russian relations does not just coincide with the souring of North Korean relations with China. It also follows a distributed denial of service (DDoS) campaign by U.S. Cyber Command on North Korea’s intelligence agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau. A distributed denial-of-service attack is an attempt to make an online service unavailable by flooding it with traffic from multiple sources. According to a U.S. official, North Korean hackers complained that the resulting spotty internet access was interfering with their work, which as of late involves stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from international banks and companies. As increasingly strict sanctions limit legal economic opportunities for North Korea, cyber heists provide for nearly a third of the value of the isolated nation’s exports.

Russia, also increasingly isolated due to sanctions and its aggressive activity, sees an opportunity in North Korea. With little investment required on its part, Russia can incorporate North Korea into its geopolitically disruptive agenda. Russia’s agenda involves forcing the U.S. and its allies to exhaust more resources on cybersecurity and tend to international conflicts. Given Russia’s own economic distress from sanctions, which have caused GDP to decline since 2013, there is a strong incentive for international partnership with North Korea. Supplying North Korean hackers with added bandwidth and capability to attack national banks and companies allows Russia to finance cyber-disruption. Worse, with Russian support, North Korea will feel emboldened to launch more destructive cyberattacks.

9de03_960x0 Russia Is Now Providing North Korea With Internet: What That Could Mean For Cyber Warfare

(Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russia and North Korea make natural allies in that they are aligned against the United States and its U.S. allies, and it is highly possible that they have collaborated in cyber-attacks in some capacity. The U.S. government and private security companies have identified the two as principal threats to national security based on their previous cyberattacks.

Russia has continuously used cyber methods to maintain its influence on the former Soviet area as part of hybrid warfare campaigns by combining conventional power with cyber capabilities. During Putin’s tenure, Estonia, Georgia, and Ukraine have been victims of Russian cyberattacks. Similarly, North Korea has been accused of numerous cybersecurity incidents, such as the Sony Pictures hack in 2014, stealing $101 million from the Bangladeshi central bank, and the worldwide WannaCry ransomware attack this year.

Also on Forbes: Who’s Behind The Ransomware Pandemic? One Small Clue Points To North Korea

Thus, Russia is quietly laying the groundwork to establish itself as a stronger North Korean partner while China-North Korea relations are cooling. This development coincides with the restoration of a Russian-North Korean railroad project, connecting Khasan (near Vladivostok) with Rajin (a port in North Korea). In addition, on October 10th, Russia reopened a ferry route to North Korea, despite the sanctions’ calls to curtail economic cooperation between UN Security Council member states and North Korea.

While China no longer wants to be accused by the international community of supporting a rogue state, Russia is not swayed by such accusations. Both Russia and North Korea have proved they will use any means feasible to disrupt international affairs. Whether it is by sending unmarked soldiers across borders, occupying a neighboring country, hacking power grids, or launching ransomware attacks against hospital computers – a strong Russian-North Korea partnership presents a much graver cyber threat than ever before. If Russia and the North Korea collaborate to unleash more aggressive cyberattacks—and it is looking like that will be the case—the international community needs to better prepare itself.

Matthew Newton is a fellow with the International Policy Institute’s Cybersecurity Initiative and a graduate student at the Jackson School of International Studies.

Donghui Park is a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies focusing on cyberwar and non-state actors.

Finally, LG V30 Android Oreo beta gets started in Korea

26 days ago, LG started signing owners of its new V30 and V30+ smartphones up for some beta testing for the Android Oreo update that will be coming along soon. After the V20 was proclaimed as the first one to launch with Android Nougat, this phone launched with Android 7.1.2 after the release of version 8.0.

Finally, those testers are getting the software updates they’ve been waiting for. Snapshots show that the beta image at nearly 1.2GB, apparently finalized on November 20, contains the November 1 security patch. Both phones are receiving the same V300K19c software version.

The beta program is one of several for Android Oreo active right now from Samsung and OnePlus. It follows the HTC U11, Nokia 8 and Xperia XZs getting their official updates.

South Korea’s loudspeakers blast North Korea with word of defecting soldier’s ill health

South Korea’s high-decibel loudspeakers on the border with longtime foe North Korea have at times blasted messages intended to inform, agitate, or taunt people on the other side.

The nation’s latest blaring border announcement says that one of communist North Korea’s soldiers defected two weeks ago in a daring afternoon escape at the most sensitive and closely monitored section of the 150-mile border separating the two countries.

The messages proclaim that the soldier — who was shot at least four times as he dashed over a military demarcation line and has been treated at a hospital near Seoul — is expected to recover from his injuries, according to South Korean military officials. The sound clips also say the soldier suffered from life-threatening malnutrition.

Officials said that while treating his gunshot wounds, doctors discovered that the soldier, 24, suffered from tuberculosis, hepatitis B and parasitic worms. After days in intensive care, the soldier — whose family name is Oh — was to be moved to a general recovery room.

Google faces inquiry in South Korea over gathering location data from Android phones

After Google reportedly confirmed the practice of gathering location data from Android devices even when the service was disabled by users, regulators in South Korea summoned representatives of the tech giant this week for questioning.

27d66_google-reuters-380p Google faces inquiry in South Korea over gathering location data from Android phones

Google. Reuters.

Data protection officials in Britain are also looking into the matter, CNNMoney reported on 24 November. The probe in South Korea follows a report by Quartz which found that Android phones have been collecting the addresses of nearby mobile towers — even when location services are disabled — and sending that data back to Google.

This makes search engine giant and the unit of Alphabet behind Android to have access to huge amount of data that invades their privacy. Users cannot opt out of this even when their devices are factory reset, the report said.

Google reportedly confirmed the move which was undertaken “to improve the speed and performance of message delivery”. The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) “is carrying out an inquiry into the claims that Google collected users’ Cell ID data without consent even when their smartphone’s location service was inactive,” Chun Ji-hyun, head of KCC’s privacy infringement division, told CNNMoney on 24 November.

Google said Android phones are no longer requesting Cell ID codes, and collection should be phased out this month.

Apple offices raided ahead of iPhone X launch in S.Korea

Ahead of the “super-premium” iPhone X launch in South Korea, regulators have reportedly raided Apple’s offices in Seoul.

According to a report in London-based Metro late on Thursday, the raid was likely to raise questions about whether South Korean authorities were trying to hamper the success of the iPhone X.

The iPhone X went on sale in the country on Friday.

“Investigators visited Apple’s HQ earlier this week to ask questions about its business practices ahead of the launch of the smartphone,” the report said.

The Korea Fair Trade Commission has been accused of protecting local companies against competition from Apple and others.

Apple products are very popular in South Korea which is home to Samsung and LG.

In 2016, the investigators began a probe in a bid to discover whether Apple struck “unfair” contracts with local phone networks.

“It’s understood the latest raid is part of this ongoing probe, which was launched just months after the American firm took action to address officials’ concern about other aunfair’ contracts with South Korean firms commissioned to repair iPhones and other gadgets,” the report said.

Apple had 33 per cent market share when it launched iPhone 6 in South Korea in 2015.

Samsung has launched a scheme called “Upgrade To Galaxy” offering up to 10,000 iPhone users a one-month trial of the Galaxy Note 8 or Galaxy S8.

​iPhone X pre-orders exceed 300000 in Korea

35a5e_5a0280b160b2df31f3324e28-1280x7201nov09201742523poster ​iPhone X pre-orders exceed 300000 in Korea

South Korean telcos are reporting high pre-orders for the iPhone X ahead of official sales beginning on Friday.

SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus had reportedly secured 100,000 iPhone X units between them, but pre-orders have exceeded 300,000 since beginning last Friday, near double that of the iPhone 8, which saw around 150,000 pre-orders.

KT saw 20,000 pre-orders within five minutes, while LG Uplus saw pre-orders double that of the iPhone 8 within the first 10 minutes.

SK Telecom, which has been staging pre-order sessions for marketing purposes, had its first batch of the handset sell out within minutes.

The telcos have demanded more stock from Apple to meet demand when official sales commence.

All of this is despite the iPhone X being the priciest iPhone ever in South Korea, costing 1.63 million won for the 256GB model.

Samsung Electronics, meanwhile, has kicked off a Galaxy Upgrade Program this week aimed at iPhone users ahead of the iPhone X rollout.

10,000 iPhone users will be chosen to try out the Galaxy S8 or Galaxy Note 8 for a month. Afterwards they can decide to keep using it or not.

The Galaxy Note 8, the most pre-ordered of the Note series to date, is still the highest-selling phone in the country, although sales have slowed since its launch in September.

PREVIOUS AND RELATED COVERAGE

North Korea-Backed Lazarus Group Takes Aim at Android Security

McAfee released new research on Nov. 20 indicating that the Lazarus Group hacking gang has now moved into the mobile realm. The Lazarus Group has been implicated in multiple large-scale attacks in recent years, including the 2014 attack against Sony Pictures and this year’s WannaCry ransomware attack.

The Lazarus Group is thought to be a nation-state threat adversary operating out of North Korea with government support. The group has been known to use many forms of desktop and server malware in its campaigns, though mobile had not been part of its known arsenal—until now.

“This is the first instance of this actor group using the mobile platform we are aware of,” Raj Samani, chief scientist at McAfee, told eWEEK.

The Lazarus Group made a fake copy of a legitimate app for reading the Bible in Korean that was available from Google Play. The fake Bible reading app took specific aim at users in South Korea. While there have been only approximately 1,300 installations of the real app, Samani noted that the number of malicious installs is currently unknown, as is the number of potential victims.

“McAfee is continuously hunting for new threats targeting a diversity of platforms including mobile,” Samani said. “One of our systems alerted us of suspicious code parts of this malware, and we started the investigation.”

Attribution

McAfee’s analysis points to the Lazarus Group for the new mobile malware due to some indicators that the North Korean hackers have used in the past. One of them was the use of a particular backdoor file delivered as an ELF (executable and linkable format) file.

“This was one of indicators that led us to believe this was Lazarus, since the ELF in this attack is similar to several executables we have seen from this group before,” Samani said. “It is a common technique by the group to hide a Command and Control protocol in an ELF file.”

The mobile malware attack does not abuse any specific known vulnerabilities in Android either. Samani explained that the Lazarus Group mobile app uses a fake digital certificate.

“The certificate used to sign this malware has been seen before signing other mobile malware samples,” he said.

North Korean-based hacking groups including the Lazarus Group have been very active of late, with the Department of Homeland Security recently issuing a warning about its activities. At the SecTor security conference in Toronto, researcher Ashley Shen detailed some of the techniques used to date by the Lazarus Group against non-mobile targets. 

At this point it’s not clear how active the Lazarus Group will be in going after mobile targets. Samani noted that there is no indication that mobile will be the platform of choice in the future, since the new attack is the first that McAfee has observed.   

“Predictions are of course fraught with challenges, but it is not inconceivable that further attacks on the mobile platform will be something we will have to contend with,” he said. 

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

North Korea-Backed Lazarus Group Takes Aim at Android Security

McAfee released new research on Nov. 20 indicating that the Lazarus Group hacking gang has now moved into the mobile realm. The Lazarus Group has been implicated in multiple large-scale attacks in recent years, including the 2014 attack against Sony Pictures and this year’s WannaCry ransomware attack.

The Lazarus Group is thought to be a nation-state threat adversary operating out of North Korea with government support. The group has been known to use many forms of desktop and server malware in its campaigns, though mobile had not been part of its known arsenal—until now.

“This is the first instance of this actor group using the mobile platform we are aware of,” Raj Samani, chief scientist at McAfee, told eWEEK.

The Lazarus Group made a fake copy of a legitimate app for reading the Bible in Korean that was available from Google Play. The fake Bible reading app took specific aim at users in South Korea. While there have been only approximately 1,300 installations of the real app, Samani noted that the number of malicious installs is currently unknown, as is the number of potential victims.

“McAfee is continuously hunting for new threats targeting a diversity of platforms including mobile,” Samani said. “One of our systems alerted us of suspicious code parts of this malware, and we started the investigation.”

Attribution

McAfee’s analysis points to the Lazarus Group for the new mobile malware due to some indicators that the North Korean hackers have used in the past. One of them was the use of a particular backdoor file delivered as an ELF (executable and linkable format) file.

“This was one of indicators that led us to believe this was Lazarus, since the ELF in this attack is similar to several executables we have seen from this group before,” Samani said. “It is a common technique by the group to hide a Command and Control protocol in an ELF file.”

The mobile malware attack does not abuse any specific known vulnerabilities in Android either. Samani explained that the Lazarus Group mobile app uses a fake digital certificate.

“The certificate used to sign this malware has been seen before signing other mobile malware samples,” he said.

North Korean-based hacking groups including the Lazarus Group have been very active of late, with the Department of Homeland Security recently issuing a warning about its activities. At the SecTor security conference in Toronto, researcher Ashley Shen detailed some of the techniques used to date by the Lazarus Group against non-mobile targets. 

At this point it’s not clear how active the Lazarus Group will be in going after mobile targets. Samani noted that there is no indication that mobile will be the platform of choice in the future, since the new attack is the first that McAfee has observed.   

“Predictions are of course fraught with challenges, but it is not inconceivable that further attacks on the mobile platform will be something we will have to contend with,” he said. 

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Apple iPhone X sells out in minutes in South Korea

Apple has sold out the iPhone X in South Korea – LG and Samsung’s home market.

South Korea’s biggest carrier – SK Telecom – has confirmed that it has exhausted all of its iPhone X pre-order stock in 3 minutes – in contrast, the initial iPhone 7 stock took 20 minutes a year ago.

e4f86_gsmarena_001 Apple iPhone X sells out in minutes in South Korea

SK Telecom has said to Korea’s Yonhap News Agency that it had less than half as many iPhone X units as it had iPhone 8 ones and that the silver iPhone X took about 1 minute to sell out in pre-orders.

Industry analysts estimate that around 150,000 iPhone X units were allocated to South Korea.

According to analysts the iPhone 8 series had around 60-70% of the interest of the iPhone 7 series – probably due to the iPhone X’s arrival to market.

It seems interest in the iPhone X is strong in South Korea, despite the smartphone carrying a big price premium compared to its Stateside price – Korean buyers are charged around $1,237 for the base 64GB model, compared to the $999 US price.

Source

North Korea’s internet is as weird as you think it is | Fox News

April 15, 2012: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un applauds as he leaves after a mass military parade in Pyongyang.

 (AP)

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Ever so cautiously, North Korea is going online.

 

Doctors can consult via live, online video conferencing, and lectures at prestigious Kim Il Sung University are streamed to faraway factories and agricultural communes. People use online dictionaries and text each other on their smart phones. In the wallets of the privileged are “Jonsong” or “Narae” cards for e-shopping and online banking. Cash registers at major department stores are plugged into the web.

It’s just not the World Wide Web. This is all done on a tightly sealed intranet of the sort a medium-sized company might use for its employees.

The free flow of information is anathema to authoritarian regimes, and with the possible exception of the African dictatorship of Eritrea, North Korea is still the least Internet-friendly country on Earth. Access to the global Internet for most is unimaginable. Hardly anyone has a personal computer or an email address that isn’t shared, and the price for trying to get around the government’s rules can be severe.

But for Kim Jong Un, the country’s first leader to come of age with the Internet, the idea of a more wired North Korea is also attractive. It comes with the potential for great benefits to the nation from information technology — and for new forms of social and political control that promise to be more effective than anything his father and grandfather could have dreamed of. It also allows for the possibility of cyber-attacks on the West.

Pyongyang’s solution is a two-tiered system where the trusted elite can surf the Internet with relative freedom while the masses are kept inside the national intranet, painstakingly sealed off from the outside world, meticulously surveilled and built in no small part on pilfered software.

The regime created, in other words, an online version of North Korea itself.

SURFING THE INTRANET

Rising from Ssuk Island in the Taedong River, which divides Pyongyang east and west, is a building shaped like a colossal atom.

The “knowledge sector” is a key priority for Kim Jong Un, and the sprawling, glassy Sci-Tech Complex, a center for the dissemination of science-related information throughout the country, is one of his signature development projects. It houses North Korea’s biggest e-library, with more than 3,000 terminals where factory workers participate in tele-learning, kids in their bright red scarves watch cartoons and university students do research.

Pak Sung Jin, a 30-year-old postgraduate in chemistry, came to work on an essay. It’s a weekday and the e-library is crowded.

Unlike most North Koreans, Pak has some experience with the Internet, though on a supervised, need-only basis. If Pak needs anything from the Internet, accredited university officials will find it for him. As a scholar and a scientist, Pak says, it’s his patriotic duty to be on top of the most up-to-date research.

He echoes the official condemnation that the Internet has been poisoned by the American imperialists and their stooges. “There ought to be a basic acceptance the Internet should be used peacefully,” he says.

Today, he is relying on the Internet’s North Korean alter ego, the national intranet.

Below a red label that states his black “Ullim” desktop computer was donated by Dear Respected Leader Kim Jong Un, what’s on Pak’s screen is for North Korean eyes only. The IP address, 10.76.1.11, indicates he’s on the walled-off network North Koreans call “Kwangmyong,” which means brightness or light.

Using the “Naenara” browser — the name means “my country” but it’s a modified version of FireFox — Pak visits a restaurant page, his university website, and cooking and online shopping sites.

There are very few actual sites on Kwangmyong. An official at the Sci-Tech Center said they number 168.

They are spread across separate networks for government agencies, schools and libraries, and companies. It’s all domestically run, though government-approved content culled from the Internet can be posted by administrators, primarily for researchers like Pak.

North Korea’s national intranet concept is unique and extreme even when compared with other information-wary countries. China and Cuba, for example, are well known for the extent of control the government exerts over what citizens can see. But that is done primarily through censorship and blocking, not complete separation.

Like most North Korean computers, the desktops at the Sci-Tech Complex run on the “Red Star” operating system, which was developed by the Korea Computer Center from Linux open-source coding.

Red Star 3.0 has the usual widgets: the Naenara browser, email, a calendar and time zone settings, even “kPhoto” (with an icon that looks a lot like iPhoto). Older versions featured a Windows XP user interface but it now it has a Mac design, right down to the “spinning beach ball” wait icon.

Versions of Red Star that have made it out of North Korea and into the hands of foreign coding experts also reveal some rather sinister, and for most users invisible, features.

Any attempt to change its core functions or disable virus checkers results in an automatic reboot cycle. Files downloaded from USBs are watermarked so that authorities can identify and trace criminal or subversive activity, a security measure that takes aim at the spread of unauthorized content from South Korea, China and elsewhere.

Red Star also uses a trace viewer that takes regular screenshots of what is being displayed. The screenshots can’t be deleted or accessed by the typical user but are available for checking if a trained government official decides to take a look.

Outside North Korea, Android phones have a similar trace-viewer feature, noted Will Scott, who taught computer science at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in 2013 and is now a doctoral student at the University of Washington. But the Red Star version reflects the regime’s very specific surveillance and violation-busting priorities. It doesn’t collect much more than the Android would; however, it is designed to make getting at that information easier for a local authority who isn’t an expert programmer.

Scott said the North has been “very effective” in using such technology to serve its goals.

Nat Kretchun, deputy director of the Open Technology Fund, said the kinds of censorship and surveillance software in Red Star and the mobile operating systems of phones and tablets reveal a new information control strategy.

Under Kim Jong Un’s predecessors, the flow of information was primarily controlled through a resource-intensive human network — the State Security Ministry’s “thought police,” for example, or Pyongyang’s iconic traffic controllers — that kept tabs on what people were up to. But the advent of the Internet and advances in communication technology poked holes in that strategy, particularly among the better educated, younger and more affluent, the very segment of society that could be most likely to pose a political threat.

So, while maintaining its old school tactics on the ground and enforcing the blackout of the global Internet, North Korean officials have learned to adapt by using the online devices themselves as yet another tool for surveillance.

“In North Korea cell phones and intranet-enabled devices are on balance pro-surveillance and control,” said Kretchun, who has been studying North Korea’s relationship to the Internet for years.

THE AZALEA SMART PHONE AND THE RYONGHUNG IPAD

The most common online experience for North Koreans isn’t on a laptop or desktop. It’s on a smart phone.

A decade ago, only a small cadre of select regime and military officials had access to smart phones. Now, according to the main provider’s most recent financial reports, there are an estimated 2.5-3 million mobile phones in North Korea, a country of 25 million.

The rapid spread of mobile phones is one of the biggest success stories of the Kim Jong Un era. After a couple of false starts, the North’s foray into mobile telecoms began in earnest in 2008 under Kim Jong Il. But it has truly blossomed over the past five years with the introduction of 3G services, thanks in large part to two foreign investors — Loxley Pacific of Thailand and Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Media and Technology.

Like the walled-off intranet, North Korea’s phones deny access to the outside world.

Local phones allow North Koreans to call and text each other, play games, surf the domestic intranet and access some other services. Users have hundreds of ring tones to choose from, and can get weather updates, look words up in dictionaries and snap selfies. But they cannot receive or place calls to numbers outside that network — the rest of the world, in other words.

It’s easy enough for North Koreans to buy phones, though the phones must be registered and approved. A good “Pyongyang” or “Arirang” model smart phone costs from $200 to $400. More basic phones go for much less, especially if the phone is second-hand.

On the second floor of the Pottonggang IT center, a clerk stands behind a glass display cabinet filled with tablets and USB flash drives. Signs on the wall behind her advertise anti-virus software and apps to put on mobile phones, which they can do by Bluetooth at the store. One of the most popular apps is a role playing game based on “Boy General,” a locally created hit anime series. It costs $1.80.

Foreigners in North Korea are relegated to a different network and cannot make calls to, or receive calls from, local numbers. They can buy local phones if they want, but the devices will be stripped of the apps and features that they normally carry and securely coded so that the apps can’t be added on later. Wi-fi use is banned for North Koreans, and tightly restricted and monitored to block surreptitious piggybacking on foreigners’ signals.

North Korea undoubtedly imports and rebrands some of its IT products. But over the past few months, two companies have generated quite a stir among Apple fans with products billed to be wholly domestic: the “Jindallae (Azalea) III” mobile phone and the “Ryonghung iPad.”

The gadgets’ insouciant similarity to Apple products, and the flat-out appropriation of the “iPad” name, isn’t especially surprising. Kim Jong Un likes Apple products — he has been photographed with a MacBook Pro on his private jet, and even had a 21-inch iMac on the desk beside him when state media showed him reviewing a nuclear “U.S. mainland strike plan” four years ago.

It seems North Korean coders have also lifted some ideas from Apple.

Outside experts believe a program similar to what Apple uses in its OS X and iOS is believed to be the basis of the booby-trap that thwarts attempts to disable security functions in Red Star. It’s now a staple on North Korean phones. And by 2014, all mobile phone operating systems had been updated to include the watermarking system to reject apps or media that don’t carry a government signature of approval.

It’s the same mechanism used by Apple to block unauthorized applications from the App Store, but in North Korea’s case serves instead to control access to information.

“The stakes are infinitely higher in North Korea, where communications are monitored and being caught talking about the wrong thing could land you in a political prison camp,” Kretchun noted.

WIRED ELITES AND CYBERSOLDIERS

While blocking off the masses, North Korea allows more Internet access to a small segment of society, including the country’s elite and its cybersoldiers.

To create a snapshot of the online behavior of the elite, U.S.-based cyber threat intelligence company Recorded Future and Team Cymru, a non-profit Internet security group, analyzed activity in IP ranges believed to be used by North Korea from April to July this year. They found that the limited number of North Koreans with access to the Internet are much more active and engaged in the world and with contemporary services and technologies than many outsiders had previously thought, according to Priscilla Moriuchi, Recorded Future’s director of strategic threat development and a former NSA agent.

“North Korean leaders are not disconnected from the world and the consequences of their actions,” she said.

How deep the access goes isn’t known. Recorded Future and Team Cymru officials contacted by The AP refused to comment on details of their dataset, including how many “elite” users were observed and how foreign tourists or residents in the North were excluded.

Even so, it stands to reason at least some members of the North Korean leadership have the access they need to keep up on world events and that specialist agents are allowed to monitor and cull intelligence from the internet.

There is also strong evidence that North Korea allows people involved in hacking or cyber operations the access necessary for a deep engagement in cyberattacks and cybercrime.

According to the FBI, the North’s bigger hacks include the recent WannaCry ransomware attack, which infected hundreds of thousands of computers in May and crippled parts of Britain’s National Health Service. It has been linked to attacks on the Bangladeshi central bank last year and on banks in South Korea going back to 2013. There was also the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures over the release of the “Interview,” a black comedy that graphically portrayed Kim Jong Un being killed. U.S. authorities recently dubbed North Korea’s cyber presence “Hidden Cobra.”

Weaponizing cyberspace is a logical option for the North because it can be done at relatively low cost and at the same time denied, according to a Congressional report submitted in August.

Pyongyang has denied hacking allegations, but the ability to carry out sophisticated cyber operations is a powerful military weapon in the hands of a state. Just as assuredly as North Korea is developing its nuclear and missile capabilities, most experts assume, it’s honing its cyber warfare tool box.

Beau Woods, the deputy director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council, cautioned of a “preponderance of question marks” regarding North Korea’s cyber skills. But he warned of how potentially devastating a more cyber-active North Korea could be.

Those concerns are turned on their head back at the Sci-Tech Center in Pyongyang.

Pak, the chemist, supports the official line in North Korea that the increasing danger of cyberattacks and slanderous Internet propaganda comes from the U.S. against Pyongyang. The government says that justifies “protective” walls to shield the masses from aggressive propaganda, and virtually requires extensive cybersecurity measures in the name of national defense.

“Don’t you see how severe the anti-Republic slander of our enemies on the Internet is?” Pak said, although the restrictive policies make it difficult for him to carry out his research. “There are a lot of cases where the Internet is being used to raise hostility against us.”

 

North Korea’s internet is as weird as you think it is

April 15, 2012: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un applauds as he leaves after a mass military parade in Pyongyang.

 (AP)

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Ever so cautiously, North Korea is going online.

 

Doctors can consult via live, online video conferencing, and lectures at prestigious Kim Il Sung University are streamed to faraway factories and agricultural communes. People use online dictionaries and text each other on their smart phones. In the wallets of the privileged are “Jonsong” or “Narae” cards for e-shopping and online banking. Cash registers at major department stores are plugged into the web.

It’s just not the World Wide Web. This is all done on a tightly sealed intranet of the sort a medium-sized company might use for its employees.

The free flow of information is anathema to authoritarian regimes, and with the possible exception of the African dictatorship of Eritrea, North Korea is still the least Internet-friendly country on Earth. Access to the global Internet for most is unimaginable. Hardly anyone has a personal computer or an email address that isn’t shared, and the price for trying to get around the government’s rules can be severe.

But for Kim Jong Un, the country’s first leader to come of age with the Internet, the idea of a more wired North Korea is also attractive. It comes with the potential for great benefits to the nation from information technology — and for new forms of social and political control that promise to be more effective than anything his father and grandfather could have dreamed of. It also allows for the possibility of cyber-attacks on the West.

Pyongyang’s solution is a two-tiered system where the trusted elite can surf the Internet with relative freedom while the masses are kept inside the national intranet, painstakingly sealed off from the outside world, meticulously surveilled and built in no small part on pilfered software.

The regime created, in other words, an online version of North Korea itself.

SURFING THE INTRANET

Rising from Ssuk Island in the Taedong River, which divides Pyongyang east and west, is a building shaped like a colossal atom.

The “knowledge sector” is a key priority for Kim Jong Un, and the sprawling, glassy Sci-Tech Complex, a center for the dissemination of science-related information throughout the country, is one of his signature development projects. It houses North Korea’s biggest e-library, with more than 3,000 terminals where factory workers participate in tele-learning, kids in their bright red scarves watch cartoons and university students do research.

Pak Sung Jin, a 30-year-old postgraduate in chemistry, came to work on an essay. It’s a weekday and the e-library is crowded.

Unlike most North Koreans, Pak has some experience with the Internet, though on a supervised, need-only basis. If Pak needs anything from the Internet, accredited university officials will find it for him. As a scholar and a scientist, Pak says, it’s his patriotic duty to be on top of the most up-to-date research.

He echoes the official condemnation that the Internet has been poisoned by the American imperialists and their stooges. “There ought to be a basic acceptance the Internet should be used peacefully,” he says.

Today, he is relying on the Internet’s North Korean alter ego, the national intranet.

Below a red label that states his black “Ullim” desktop computer was donated by Dear Respected Leader Kim Jong Un, what’s on Pak’s screen is for North Korean eyes only. The IP address, 10.76.1.11, indicates he’s on the walled-off network North Koreans call “Kwangmyong,” which means brightness or light.

Using the “Naenara” browser — the name means “my country” but it’s a modified version of FireFox — Pak visits a restaurant page, his university website, and cooking and online shopping sites.

There are very few actual sites on Kwangmyong. An official at the Sci-Tech Center said they number 168.

They are spread across separate networks for government agencies, schools and libraries, and companies. It’s all domestically run, though government-approved content culled from the Internet can be posted by administrators, primarily for researchers like Pak.

North Korea’s national intranet concept is unique and extreme even when compared with other information-wary countries. China and Cuba, for example, are well known for the extent of control the government exerts over what citizens can see. But that is done primarily through censorship and blocking, not complete separation.

Like most North Korean computers, the desktops at the Sci-Tech Complex run on the “Red Star” operating system, which was developed by the Korea Computer Center from Linux open-source coding.

Red Star 3.0 has the usual widgets: the Naenara browser, email, a calendar and time zone settings, even “kPhoto” (with an icon that looks a lot like iPhoto). Older versions featured a Windows XP user interface but it now it has a Mac design, right down to the “spinning beach ball” wait icon.

Versions of Red Star that have made it out of North Korea and into the hands of foreign coding experts also reveal some rather sinister, and for most users invisible, features.

Any attempt to change its core functions or disable virus checkers results in an automatic reboot cycle. Files downloaded from USBs are watermarked so that authorities can identify and trace criminal or subversive activity, a security measure that takes aim at the spread of unauthorized content from South Korea, China and elsewhere.

Red Star also uses a trace viewer that takes regular screenshots of what is being displayed. The screenshots can’t be deleted or accessed by the typical user but are available for checking if a trained government official decides to take a look.

Outside North Korea, Android phones have a similar trace-viewer feature, noted Will Scott, who taught computer science at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in 2013 and is now a doctoral student at the University of Washington. But the Red Star version reflects the regime’s very specific surveillance and violation-busting priorities. It doesn’t collect much more than the Android would; however, it is designed to make getting at that information easier for a local authority who isn’t an expert programmer.

Scott said the North has been “very effective” in using such technology to serve its goals.

Nat Kretchun, deputy director of the Open Technology Fund, said the kinds of censorship and surveillance software in Red Star and the mobile operating systems of phones and tablets reveal a new information control strategy.

Under Kim Jong Un’s predecessors, the flow of information was primarily controlled through a resource-intensive human network — the State Security Ministry’s “thought police,” for example, or Pyongyang’s iconic traffic controllers — that kept tabs on what people were up to. But the advent of the Internet and advances in communication technology poked holes in that strategy, particularly among the better educated, younger and more affluent, the very segment of society that could be most likely to pose a political threat.

So, while maintaining its old school tactics on the ground and enforcing the blackout of the global Internet, North Korean officials have learned to adapt by using the online devices themselves as yet another tool for surveillance.

“In North Korea cell phones and intranet-enabled devices are on balance pro-surveillance and control,” said Kretchun, who has been studying North Korea’s relationship to the Internet for years.

THE AZALEA SMART PHONE AND THE RYONGHUNG IPAD

The most common online experience for North Koreans isn’t on a laptop or desktop. It’s on a smart phone.

A decade ago, only a small cadre of select regime and military officials had access to smart phones. Now, according to the main provider’s most recent financial reports, there are an estimated 2.5-3 million mobile phones in North Korea, a country of 25 million.

The rapid spread of mobile phones is one of the biggest success stories of the Kim Jong Un era. After a couple of false starts, the North’s foray into mobile telecoms began in earnest in 2008 under Kim Jong Il. But it has truly blossomed over the past five years with the introduction of 3G services, thanks in large part to two foreign investors — Loxley Pacific of Thailand and Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Media and Technology.

Like the walled-off intranet, North Korea’s phones deny access to the outside world.

Local phones allow North Koreans to call and text each other, play games, surf the domestic intranet and access some other services. Users have hundreds of ring tones to choose from, and can get weather updates, look words up in dictionaries and snap selfies. But they cannot receive or place calls to numbers outside that network — the rest of the world, in other words.

It’s easy enough for North Koreans to buy phones, though the phones must be registered and approved. A good “Pyongyang” or “Arirang” model smart phone costs from $200 to $400. More basic phones go for much less, especially if the phone is second-hand.

On the second floor of the Pottonggang IT center, a clerk stands behind a glass display cabinet filled with tablets and USB flash drives. Signs on the wall behind her advertise anti-virus software and apps to put on mobile phones, which they can do by Bluetooth at the store. One of the most popular apps is a role playing game based on “Boy General,” a locally created hit anime series. It costs $1.80.

Foreigners in North Korea are relegated to a different network and cannot make calls to, or receive calls from, local numbers. They can buy local phones if they want, but the devices will be stripped of the apps and features that they normally carry and securely coded so that the apps can’t be added on later. Wi-fi use is banned for North Koreans, and tightly restricted and monitored to block surreptitious piggybacking on foreigners’ signals.

North Korea undoubtedly imports and rebrands some of its IT products. But over the past few months, two companies have generated quite a stir among Apple fans with products billed to be wholly domestic: the “Jindallae (Azalea) III” mobile phone and the “Ryonghung iPad.”

The gadgets’ insouciant similarity to Apple products, and the flat-out appropriation of the “iPad” name, isn’t especially surprising. Kim Jong Un likes Apple products — he has been photographed with a MacBook Pro on his private jet, and even had a 21-inch iMac on the desk beside him when state media showed him reviewing a nuclear “U.S. mainland strike plan” four years ago.

It seems North Korean coders have also lifted some ideas from Apple.

Outside experts believe a program similar to what Apple uses in its OS X and iOS is believed to be the basis of the booby-trap that thwarts attempts to disable security functions in Red Star. It’s now a staple on North Korean phones. And by 2014, all mobile phone operating systems had been updated to include the watermarking system to reject apps or media that don’t carry a government signature of approval.

It’s the same mechanism used by Apple to block unauthorized applications from the App Store, but in North Korea’s case serves instead to control access to information.

“The stakes are infinitely higher in North Korea, where communications are monitored and being caught talking about the wrong thing could land you in a political prison camp,” Kretchun noted.

WIRED ELITES AND CYBERSOLDIERS

While blocking off the masses, North Korea allows more Internet access to a small segment of society, including the country’s elite and its cybersoldiers.

To create a snapshot of the online behavior of the elite, U.S.-based cyber threat intelligence company Recorded Future and Team Cymru, a non-profit Internet security group, analyzed activity in IP ranges believed to be used by North Korea from April to July this year. They found that the limited number of North Koreans with access to the Internet are much more active and engaged in the world and with contemporary services and technologies than many outsiders had previously thought, according to Priscilla Moriuchi, Recorded Future’s director of strategic threat development and a former NSA agent.

“North Korean leaders are not disconnected from the world and the consequences of their actions,” she said.

How deep the access goes isn’t known. Recorded Future and Team Cymru officials contacted by The AP refused to comment on details of their dataset, including how many “elite” users were observed and how foreign tourists or residents in the North were excluded.

Even so, it stands to reason at least some members of the North Korean leadership have the access they need to keep up on world events and that specialist agents are allowed to monitor and cull intelligence from the internet.

There is also strong evidence that North Korea allows people involved in hacking or cyber operations the access necessary for a deep engagement in cyberattacks and cybercrime.

According to the FBI, the North’s bigger hacks include the recent WannaCry ransomware attack, which infected hundreds of thousands of computers in May and crippled parts of Britain’s National Health Service. It has been linked to attacks on the Bangladeshi central bank last year and on banks in South Korea going back to 2013. There was also the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures over the release of the “Interview,” a black comedy that graphically portrayed Kim Jong Un being killed. U.S. authorities recently dubbed North Korea’s cyber presence “Hidden Cobra.”

Weaponizing cyberspace is a logical option for the North because it can be done at relatively low cost and at the same time denied, according to a Congressional report submitted in August.

Pyongyang has denied hacking allegations, but the ability to carry out sophisticated cyber operations is a powerful military weapon in the hands of a state. Just as assuredly as North Korea is developing its nuclear and missile capabilities, most experts assume, it’s honing its cyber warfare tool box.

Beau Woods, the deputy director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council, cautioned of a “preponderance of question marks” regarding North Korea’s cyber skills. But he warned of how potentially devastating a more cyber-active North Korea could be.

Those concerns are turned on their head back at the Sci-Tech Center in Pyongyang.

Pak, the chemist, supports the official line in North Korea that the increasing danger of cyberattacks and slanderous Internet propaganda comes from the U.S. against Pyongyang. The government says that justifies “protective” walls to shield the masses from aggressive propaganda, and virtually requires extensive cybersecurity measures in the name of national defense.

“Don’t you see how severe the anti-Republic slander of our enemies on the Internet is?” Pak said, although the restrictive policies make it difficult for him to carry out his research. “There are a lot of cases where the Internet is being used to raise hostility against us.”

 

​LG to preview Android Oreo via V30 in Korea | ZDNet

LG V30 users in South Korea will be able to try out Google’s upcoming operating system (OS), Android Oreo, ahead of the official update.

Those who use LG’s latest flagship phone can apply via the Quick Help app, the firm’s after-sales service app, by pressing on the LG OS Preview banner.

LG — always one of the first vendors to get the latest Android OS updates — will send a software update alert within the month and will automatically upgrade users’ OS wirelessly.

Users can put in their reviews on the forum page within the app. LG said it will then apply user suggestions when it officially rolls out the latest OS in December.

Google, meanwhile, has released Android 8.1 developer preview for Nexus phones in the US ahead of the mass rollout in December.

LG’s V30, despite high praise, is drastically behind Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 in terms of sales in South Korea.

Losses of LG’s mobile business have somewhat narrowed in the third quarter, but the business is yet to turn a profit in 10 quarters.

PREVIOUS AND RELATED COVERAGE

LG V30 owners in Korea can preview Android Oreo – Engadget

LG’s phones may be bothersome for its bottom line, but they boast a sizeable advantage for users: Quick access to Android updates. And it looks like the trend is set to continue with the company’s latest beaut, the V30. LG is currently letting owners of its flagship in South Korea try out Android Oreo, ahead of the official update. Users can apply via the firm’s Quick Help app, and will then receive a software update alert within the month. LG claims it will also take onboard customer feedback for its official Oreo rollout in December.

LG V30 owners in Korea can preview Android Oreo

LG’s phones may be bothersome for its bottom line, but they boast a sizeable advantage for users: Quick access to Android updates. And it looks like the trend is set to continue with the company’s latest beaut, the V30. LG is currently letting owners of its flagship in South Korea try out Android Oreo, ahead of the official update. Users can apply via the firm’s Quick Help app, and will then receive a software update alert within the month. LG claims it will also take onboard customer feedback for its official Oreo rollout in December.

LG V30 owners in Korea can preview Android Oreo

LG’s phones may be bothersome for its bottom line, but they boast a sizeable advantage for users: Quick access to Android updates. And it looks like the trend is set to continue with the company’s latest beaut, the V30. LG is currently letting owners of its flagship in South Korea try out Android Oreo, ahead of the official update. Users can apply via the firm’s Quick Help app, and will then receive a software update alert within the month. LG claims it will also take onboard customer feedback for its official Oreo rollout in December.

​LG to preview Android Oreo via V30 in Korea

LG V30 users in South Korea will be able to try out Google’s upcoming operating system (OS), Android Oreo, ahead of the official update.

Those who use LG’s latest flagship phone can apply via the Quick Help app, the firm’s after-sales service app, by pressing on the LG OS Preview banner.

LG — always one of the first vendors to get the latest Android OS updates — will send a software update alert within the month and will automatically upgrade users’ OS wirelessly.

Users can put in their reviews on the forum page within the app. LG said it will then apply user suggestions when it officially rolls out the latest OS in December.

Google, meanwhile, has released Android 8.1 developer preview for Nexus phones in the US ahead of the mass rollout in December.

LG’s V30, despite high praise, is drastically behind Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 in terms of sales in South Korea.

Losses of LG’s mobile business have somewhat narrowed in the third quarter, but the business is yet to turn a profit in 10 quarters.

PREVIOUS AND RELATED COVERAGE

Britain Says North Korea Was Behind Cyberattack on Health Service

They encrypted the information on them and then demanded payment of $300 or more in Bitcoin to unlock the devices.

In Britain, the attack resulted in the abrupt cancellation of patients’ operations and delays in medical appointments at dozens of hospitals that struggled to retrieve essential medical information and patient histories.

Britain’s National Audit Office said on Friday that at least 6,900 appointments had been canceled during the attack, which affected more than one-third of England’s 236 N.H.S. trusts. Up to 19,000 appointments may have been affected, it said.

Hospital authorities have said that no patient data was compromised or stolen during the attack. But it had particular resonance in Britain where the N.H.S., though chronically underfunded, is a vaunted part of the nation’s identity.

Mr. Wallace warned that it was difficult to respond to a cyberattack committed by a “hostile state.” North Korea, which has ambitions to develop a nuclear weapon and has been repeatedly testing missiles despite international sanctions, has also proved adept at sowing havoc through cyberattacks.

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“North Korea has been potentially linked to other attacks about raising foreign currency,” he said, in an apparent reference to an attack last year in which North Korean hackers tried to steal $1 billion from the New York Federal Reserve, and almost succeeded before being stopped by a spelling error.

The North has an army of 6,000 hackers, and experts in Britain and the United States say their ability to wage effective cyberattacks has improved. In 2014, the country unleashed a cyberattack against Sony Pictures aimed at blocking the release of a satirical film deemed disrespectful of its leader, Kim Jong-un.

Mr. Wallace said it was imperative for Britain to reinforce its efforts to defend against future attacks. “It’s a salient lesson for us all that all of us, from individuals to governments to large organizations, have a role to play in maintaining the security of our networks,” he said.

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The National Audit Office said on Friday that the WannaCry attack had been relatively unsophisticated and could have been prevented had the N.H.S. followed rudimentary procedures to protect its systems. It said that N.H.S. management had recklessly ignored security recommendations.

Amyas Morse, the head of the National Audit Office, on Friday criticized the preparedness of the N.H.S.

“The WannaCry cyberattack had potentially serious implications for the N.H.S. and its ability to provide care to patients,” he said in a statement. He added that the N.H.S. needed to get its “act together.”

In the immediate aftermath, Amber Rudd, the British home secretary, acknowledged that, despite several warnings of a possible attack, the N.H.S. had been ill prepared to defend itself and was vulnerable because its computers had outmoded software.

While the ransom demanded in the attack in Britain was modest, the National Audit Office said evidence indicated that no N.H.S. organization had paid, which experts say could have encouraged further attacks.

Continue reading the main story

​iPhone 8 pre-orders set to begin in Korea

906e2_image-2017-06-26-at-12-52-00-pm ​iPhone 8 pre-orders set to begin in Korea

SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus will begin pre-orders for the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus on Friday in South Korea, the telcos have said.

Official sales will begin the following week on November 3.

With the pricier higher-spec iPhone X’s launch date up in the air, SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus are keen to promote the iPhone 8 series.

However, there are some worries whether the phones will be popular due to consumers waiting for the iPhone X, a telco official said.

Offloading remaining stocks of the iPhone 7 concurrently will also be a priority, the official added.

Prices are yet to be announced, but the iPhone 8 Plus is expected to be the most costly ever for a flagship in the country.

Launched in the US on September 22, the iPhone 8 has so far reported less in initial sales than its predecessors.

Its main competitor, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8, has sold an average of 15,000 units a day in South Korea since sales began on September 21. It is widely expected to sell more than 10 million units before the year’s end.

PREVIOUS AND RELATED COVERAGE

North Korea could be secretly mining cryptocurrency on your computer

North Korea has a cryptocurrency infatuation. Its government has been accused of unleashing a global ransomware attack to raise bitcoin, mining the cryptocurrency within its borders, and hacking South Korean bitcoin exchanges. Now, research firm Recorded Future says there’s a strong chance Kim Jong-un’s regime is experimenting with malware that secretly mines currency using other people’s computers.

Malware crypto-mining is a new global trend among hackers, says a new report (pdf) from Recorded Future, which monitors discussions among “the criminal underground” on the so-called dark web. Starting this year, hackers seem to be shifting away from high-intensity, widespread ransomware attacks, towards “long-term, low velocity” crypto-mining in the background.

Recorded Future has not detected specific instances of North Korean malware mining, but believes that the regime has the knowhow, motive, and interest in cryptocurrencies to execute similar attacks. “North Korean threat actors have prior experience in assembling and managing botnets, bitcoin mining, and cryptocurrency theft, as well as in custom altering publicly available malware; three elements that would be key to effectively creating and managing a network of covert cryptocurrency miners,” Recorded Future’s report reads.

b35a1_recorded-future-malware-crypto-mining North Korea could be secretly mining cryptocurrency on your computerb35a1_recorded-future-malware-crypto-mining North Korea could be secretly mining cryptocurrency on your computer
Incidences of chatter about cryptocurrency mining among criminals on the dark web. (Recorded Future)

Recorded Future says hackers are shifting to malware mining because ransomware attacks became too egregious, attracting law enforcement’s attention instead of generating the steady stream of income attackers had grown to expect since the method became fashionable in 2015. “Outrageous attacks on healthcare facilities and municipal transit systems culminated in the unprecedented WannaCry and NotPetya campaigns,” according to Recorded Future’s report. “Overnight, ransomware was recognized as an act of cyberterrorism.”

With ransomware a hot potato, hackers turned to installing hidden crypto-miners on others’ machines. This has turned out to be a relatively stable, low-fuss way of getting cash, according to Recorded Future. One hacker on a Russian-language forum expressed surprise at how easy it was to create a network of secret cryptominers: “I’ve used ‘bots’ already under my control to upload 110 miners before going to sleep. By the time I woke up 108 were still alive, which took me by surprise. I expected half would be dead by then.“

The cryptocurrencies most popularly mined in secret are monero, and zcash, says Andrei Barysevich, an author of the Recorded Future report. These cryptocurrencies require less computational resources to mine profitably compared to something like bitcoin. However, one malware mining example obtained by the firm hijacked a computer’s graphics card to mine ethereum.

There’s no blanket way to detect a malware miner on your computer right now because the method is new, and the software keeps changing, Barysevich says. But a noticeable slowdown in a computer’s performance could suggest that it it’s surreptitiously churning out a cryptocurrency—possibly destined for a North Korean digital wallet.


Read next: North Korea may be mining bitcoin in addition to hacking it




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