What North Korea’s elite use the internet for: Researchers find they visit Facebook, watch videos and look at porn sites

What North Korea’s elite use the internet for: Researchers find they visit Facebook, watch videos and look at porn sites

- in Internet

It’s come to be known as the Hermit Kingdom, with strict rules enforced upon its citizens and tight internet restrictions – but, according to a new report, North Korea’s elite leaders aren’t exactly disconnected.

Intelligence firm Recorded Future has found that high ranking North Korean officials engage in many of the same behaviours you might expect to see among Westerners, from checking social media to watching porn.

The experts monitored internet use in the isolated country for three months, and most often found it to be poorly protected, if at all, revealing unprecedented insight into North Korean leadership and elite interests.

Intelligence firm Recorded Future has found that high ranking North Korean officials engage in many of the same behaviours you might expect to see among Westerners, from checking social media to watching porn. A stock image is pictured 

Intelligence firm Recorded Future has found that high ranking North Korean officials engage in many of the same behaviours you might expect to see among Westerners, from checking social media to watching porn. A stock image is pictured

In North Korea, most ordinary citizens do not have internet access, the report explains.

Their mobile devices include only the most basic 3G services, including voice, text messaging, and picture/video messaging, and can operate only through North Korea’s domestic provider network, Koryolink.

Some, however, have access to a domestic, state-run intranet through common-use computers at universities or internet cafes, including university students, scientists, and select government officials.

And, of this group, there’s an even smaller subset who have direct access to the worldwide internet.

This is North Korea’s top tier, including the most senior leaders and the ruling elite, according to the report.

The data show their internet behaviour is, in many ways, much like ours.

These users were found to spend much of their time checking social media, including Facebook and Instagram, reading the news, and browsing Amazon.

Most of their online activity was devoted to gaming and content streaming, which accounted for 65 percent of usage.

This content primarily came from the Chinese video hosting service Youku, as well as iTunes, and various BitTorrent services.

According to the report, World of Tanks was among their top games.

Experts monitored internet use in the isolated country for three months, and often found it to be poorly protected, if at all, revealing unprecedented insight into North Korean leadership and elite interests. The graph shows hourly usage of Facebook, Google, and other sites

Experts monitored internet use in the isolated country for three months, and often found it to be poorly protected, if at all, revealing unprecedented insight into North Korean leadership and elite interests. The graph shows hourly usage of Facebook, Google, and other sites

For those who did take measures to obfuscate their activity, VPN and VPS services were used, often purchased from well-known Western companies such as Sharktech, iWeb, Digital Ocean, Linode, Leaseweb USA, Telemax, and Touch VPN.

Less than one percent of internet activity was protected, the researchers say – and, for those that did take such measures, obfuscation was typically poor, revealing exactly what they were up to.

‘Many VPN and VPS were used to obfuscate or facilitate browsing, either from passive internet monitoring or domestic censors,’ according to the report.

‘One US VPN was used by an iPad to check a Gmail account, access Google Cloud, check Facebook and MSN accounts, and view adult content.

‘Other VPN and VPS were used to run Metasploit, make purchases using bitcoin, check Twitter, play video games, stream videos, post documents to Dropbox, and browse Amazon.’

A small number of citzens have access to a domestic, state-run intranet through common-use computers. And, of this group, there¿s an even smaller subset who have direct access to the worldwide internet. Kim Jong-Un is pictured above following a recent ICBM test-fire

A small number of citzens have access to a domestic, state-run intranet through common-use computers. And, of this group, there’s an even smaller subset who have direct access to the worldwide internet. Kim Jong-Un is pictured above following a recent ICBM test-fire

The report offers new insight on the behaviours of North Korea’s top officials, suggesting they may have more of an internet presence than many would suspect.

While they may seem cut off from the rest of the world, experts say that isn’t necessarily the case.

‘It’s common to describe North Korea as an isolated country,’ Sheena Chestnut Greitens, an expert on North Korea and non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Vice News.

‘The truth is that the North Korean regime is not that isolated. Ordinary citizens are as a result of the regime’s choices.’

[“Source-dailymail”]