Explainer: How North Korea uses the Internet to prop up its regime

Cryptocurrency mining and cybercrime are Pyongyang's stock in trade.

    2020/02/24

NSFW    SOMERVILLE, MASSACHUSETTS — North Korea is turning to cryptocurrency as a means to circumvent sanctions. In a published report, analysts at Record Future say the regime is investing in high end machines for mining Monero and the activity has increased tenfold since May 2019.

Recorded Future, which has ties to the CIA, says North Korea heavily regulates internet access and allows only elite military officials to use the Web. This makes Pyongyang's cyber traffic easier to sample and analyze.

North Korea also engages in cyber theft and espionage, including cryptocurrency theft, hacking enabled bank theft, and financial cybercrimes. Over the past four years, those activities generated $2 billion, a sum equal to 7 percent of North Korea's annual GDP.

According to the report, North Korea has three main ways to connect to the Internet, which is via its normal allotted IP, China-based Unicom, or Russia's satellite company SatGate Holdings.
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