Author Archives: Scott

North Korea and Iran – cyber power BFFs?

UPDATE (28 MAY 2015): New report (and here), from a distinctly biased Iranian opposition group with a mixed record of reporting on events inside Iran, says a North Korean Defense Ministry team visited Iran the last week of April to share information on nuclear warhead and ballistic missile development. The technology sharing, if true, would be a repeat of previous violations of UN sanctions prohibiting the countries from exchanging ballistic missile technology.

UPDATE (22 FEB 2015): New story from longtime Korea-watcher Donald Kirk on how Iran’s ties to North Korea may hamper any DC-Tehran nuclear deal.

NK-IRAN-US

UPDATE (18 DEC): The U.S. has reportedly concluded that North Korea was responsible for the cyber attack on Sony. The report goes on to mention an Iranian – North Korean connection, based on similar techniques used in the Sony attack and previous attacks in South Korea and Saudi Arabia. No word yet on a decision regarding response measures, if any.

Since the signing of a 2012 pact on IT research cooperation between Iran and North Korea, there have been a series of reports on cyber activities and attacks conducted by the two nations. This year alone we have a cyber attack on the Sands Casino in Las Vegas (widely attributed to Iran), an attack on Sony that’s still making headlines (widely attributed to North Korea), and a report last week from a leading cyber security firm highlighting Iranian advances in cyber capabilities likely developed in conjunction with North Korea.

Prior to Sony (if indeed that attack was carried out by the North), Pyongyang had been blamed for a series of attacks on South Korean banking, media, and other websites. In one attack, targeting Nonghyup, the agricultural bank, 30 million customers spent days locked out of their accounts.

In 2012, Iran was blamed for a series of attacks targeting U.S. banks and financial institutions. While damage was limited, the banks involved did eventually turn to the NSA for help. Much of the reporting on Iran has highlighted Iranian attention to the cyber domain in the wake of the successful/disastrous (depending on your point of view) Stuxnet attack on Iran’s nuclear program. This attack awakened the regime to both the dangers and opportunities of the cyber domain, and Iran has been rapidly working to expand its capabilities ever since – including the 2012 agreement with North Korea mentioned above.

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Back from Afghanistan

Apologies for the lack of postings this year, but have spent most of 2014 in Afghanistan, away from reliable Internet access. Am finally back in the States though, and ready to resume posting here on the blog.

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A Few Months in Central Asia

Sorry for the absence of postings these past few months, but am currently most of the way through a few months in Central Asia. Hopefully back online and blogging come July.

Thanks for stopping by,

Scott
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WORK HARD FOR THE KIMS! An Introduction to North Korea

UPDATE (19 FEB): The book is now (finally!) available on Kobo.

The “KIMS” in the title represent North Korea’s ruling family, in power in Pyongyang since the 40s and anxious to stay there. The images in the book introduce North Korean history, culture, and ideology by translating the country’s unique propaganda posters into English, then exploring their themes and messages.



Most of the posters used in the brief book are already here on the website, or available on the Facebook page, but the book includes additional details and explanations.

The book is currently available for download from Amazon for Kindle, Barnes and Noble for Nook, and Apple’s iBooks store. A Kobo version will be available soon. Please let me know if you’d like to see the book available in additional formats. There are no plans to publish a paperback or hardcover version at this time.

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Miami to New York on Amtrak’s Silver Meteor

(UPDATE JAN 2015): We made it the whole way this year! Unlike last year, when the train north broke down in Wilmington and forced everyone into a mad scramble across the platform to another train, this year the ‘Meteor’ didn’t break down and we made it home on time. Nice to see the improvement! As yet unimproved are the weird in-room toilets in the roomettes, but maybe someday.

After twice closing out a Florida vacation on the Auto Train, this year it was Amtrak’s Silver Meteor, running between Miami and New York City (Penn Station). It won’t carry your car, but the slow moving ‘Meteor’ (aptly named only in comparison to a horse and buggy) goes beyond D.C. in the north and Orlando in the south, making for a more convenient trip for anyone not local to those two stations.

Amtrak Silver Service Route Map

Like most long distance Amtrak trains, a variety of tickets are available, from seats at one end of the train, to roomettes (max two people) and rooms (max six) at the other end. At the center of the train are a lounge car, with drinks, snacks, and light meals, and a dining car with full meal service.
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  • Ridiculous that #SouthKorea gov't fears this site. Hopefully Moon changes. North Korea Tech & censorship in SK https://t.co/vKZK7lKNSD - posted on 26/06/2017

  • Interesting use of NGO social media counternarrative capabilities: How Facebook Can Fight the Hate https://t.co/8TFLeYNXrC - posted on 25/06/2017

  • A state that desires isolation is punished ...by being isolated? Huh? - Do American Travelers Belong in North Korea? https://t.co/nkgblnVoWQ - posted on 22/06/2017

  • If only policy was to beg China, up sanctions, pass UN res., & make mil threats, then we'd ... oh wait. #NorthKorea https://t.co/dpUAWi0jX8 - posted on 11/06/2017

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