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Communications The Internet Wireless Networking

Postcard From Pyongyang: The Airport Now Has Wi-Fi, Sort of (apnews.com) 141

Eric Talmadge, writing for AP: North Korea is one of the least Wi-Fi-friendly countries in the world. Having a device that emits Wi-Fi signals can result in detention and a major fine. Worse, if you are a North Korean. Public use of the internet is a concept that just makes North Korean officials really nervous. But here's a sign that might be changing. North Korea's main internet provider appears to have put up a Wi-Fi trial balloon at the international departure area of Pyongyang's airport. It's a logical place to start. The service is only available, or even visible, to travelers who have already cleared customs, which included me last week. The reporter was unable to actually get the Wi-Fi to work, however.
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Postcard From Pyongyang: The Airport Now Has Wi-Fi, Sort of

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  • Honey ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Thursday December 28, 2017 @12:42PM (#55822543)

    ... pot.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Um, no. How exactly is this a honeypot? Do tell.

      More likely, the DPRK is interested in portraying themselves favorably to international audiences. That's why they're allowed more media in Pyongyang when it suits their purposes. Adding wifi is making it easier for Western journalists to communicate images of what the DPRK wants them to show. At the same time, they get to snoop on the communications and perhaps obtain sensitive information in the process.

      Why would this be a honeypot? It's of far more value to

      • At the same time, they get to snoop on the communications and perhaps obtain sensitive information in the process.

        Soooo..... Honeypot?

    • Re:Honey ... (Score:4, Informative)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Thursday December 28, 2017 @12:54PM (#55822637)

      A honeypot doesn't work if you can't log in. This is an example of Hanlon's Razor [wikipedia.org].

      The Norks have figured out how to build and launch ICBMs, but setting up a functioning Wifi hotspot is still beyond their capability.

      • A honeypot doesn't work if you can't log in.

        All a honeypot REALLY requires is that you try to connect, then it blows out the TCP connection stack and downloads whatever it likes onto your device. Why even pretend a login is working when it's done everything it needs to do? Do you seriously doubt there are a ton of cheap Android phones you could easily root this way, probably even older iOS versions?

        The point of the honeypot is that it draws targets in that are then infected in some way, so this easily qua

        • then it blows out the TCP connection stack and downloads whatever it likes

          What does it mean to "blow out" a TCP connection?

          Do you seriously doubt there are a ton of cheap Android phones you could easily root this way

          I have no idea what you mean by "this way", but I also don't see what "cheap" has to do with it. They are running the same networking software on the same core hardware (ARM) as more expensive Android phones.

        • Honeypot just means you spy on the data. It's not going to "blows out the TCP connection stack and downloads whatever it likes onto your device".

          And actually a honeypot would be very easy to set up. Make sure people have to log in with a local phone number like the Chinese do, and then you can work back from an IP to a phone number. If you force all mobile providers to get an ID you can track that back to a person.

          So now you've got a system where you can see people do on the internet. For maximum Orwelliann

          • by Shoten ( 260439 )

            Honeypot just means you spy on the data. It's not going to "blows out the TCP connection stack and downloads whatever it likes onto your device".

            And actually a honeypot would be very easy to set up. Make sure people have to log in with a local phone number like the Chinese do, and then you can work back from an IP to a phone number. If you force all mobile providers to get an ID you can track that back to a person.

            So now you've got a system where you can see people do on the internet. For maximum Orwellianness I'd allow access to sites that are normally blocked and just see who tries to visit them.

            Hell why not man in the middle SSL sites so facebook.com goes to facebook.nk. Facebook.nk would log times, IP, text, basically everything.

            Most devices will complain about the certificate not matching, but then most people will probably click to connect anyway. Of course a competent government would send an national security letter that forces facebook to sign the MITM site, in which case browsers will connect without complaining.

            The downside to MITM'ing sites of course is that someone will eventually notice. Then again I bet if the NSA does this sort of thing the MITM site is probably colocated with an indistinguishable from the servers it is MITMing.

            UNLIMITED POWER! [youtube.com]

            However if you're China or North Korea hopefully things are not set up so you can force a local company to issue a certificate that lets you MITM a US site.

            While the poster (the one who talks about "blowing out the TCP connection stack," whatever the fuck that means) has the social skills of a rabid ferret, a honeypot can do pretty much what you want it to do; in that respect, he/she does have a good point. And a vulnerability exists which would operate in this fashion as well There was a nasty vulnerability (Broadpwn) in Broadcomm mobile SoCs that can be exploited in exactly this way (via a hostile WiFi AP) without even successfully connecting to a network.

            • While the poster (the one who talks about "blowing out the TCP connection stack," whatever the fuck that means) has the social skills of a rabid ferret,

              Lulz

              Normally I would chalk fears like this up to paranoia...but this is the lounge for international travelers in North Korea's only international airport. I mean, honestly...if I could think of a single place that's most likely a site where travelers would be attacked, this is it. It's practically a line out of a comedy, it's so over-the-top as a description of a risky situation. Can we really say that North Korea...NORTH KOREA...has set up a WiFi network specifically for visiting foreigners just out of the goodness of their heart?

              Honestly when it comes to hoovering up data on an industrial scale, you can't really beat the US. I noticed my Samsung Galaxy S5 which was ancient started getting frequent 'security updates' when I was in NYC. Maybe I'm paranoid but I always assumed the NSA had sent national security letters to Google, Samsung, the carriers, etc to make sure their latest SmurfKit was running on it.

              http://www.zdnet.com/article/m... [zdnet.com]

              The S5 started to run a lot slower and hotter and I ended up buying a LG V20 rather than tr

      • Well, in their defense they were using a Netgear router, and those things can be a pain to setup...
    • One Day... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Thursday December 28, 2017 @01:32PM (#55822935)

      North Korea will fall. Either by violence from outside or from within.

      When the dust settles, the world will learn of the atrocities they suspect now, but are really unwilling to admit to.

      At that time, the entire world will be ashamed to have let the Cancer that is North Korea live for so long.

      • Unwilling to admit? You haven't been looking around, have you?

        I regularly see articles about what is happening in NK, and not just from U.S. sources.

        Then there are the pictures which have been smuggled out showing what life is really like out in the country where people resort to eating grass because there's so little food.

        Don't forget the stories from people who have escaped and have talked about the executions, the imprisonments, and all the other penalties people are being subjected to.

        As to your fascis

        • by sycodon ( 149926 )

          If we fully admitted to it, then we would do something about it.

          Unfortunately "we" includes China and Russia.

          As for Fascism, only one side is assaulting the other side for having the temerity to want to listen to a speaker.

          • by nasch ( 598556 )

            If we fully admitted to it, then we would do something about it.

            Sounds like a No True Scotsman fallacy. We (depending on who is included in "we") fully admitted the genocide in Rwanda was happening, but didn't do much of anything about it.

      • Entire world? Huh? How's it our problem? We have no culpability whatsoever. If any nation can be blamed it is China, for propping them up for so long. I'm really at a loss to understand how what happens in North Korea is anyone's fault but North Korea's.
      • Re:One Day... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Altrag ( 195300 ) on Thursday December 28, 2017 @05:47PM (#55824429)

        Some day, yes. It won't be from within any time soon though. The military is way too strong and the populace too weak and well-controlled to really get anything going. Of course if and when it does get going, it would by necessity have to be a surprise to everyone not involved so I suppose its possibly that they've been planning something for 20 years that they'll spring on the DPRK any day now.

        Outside violence would likely have to be initiated by DPRK themselves though. China still supports them and nobody else is going to initiate action against them while China's hovering in the background. As long as North Korea just continues testing and threatening with their nukes rather than actually using them, its unlikely even the US will try to stop them.

        are really unwilling to admit to.

        Nobody's unwilling to admit it. They're just unsure what to do about it. Attacking NK has a good chance of pissing off China, and nobody really wants a war with China at this point. If China themselves decide to annex NK then there might be something doing, but the rest of the world won't have much involvement.

        And even if China does take action, we're likely to end up with another, possibly even more tense standoff as there's a chance they'd want the entire Korean peninsula rather than just half of it.

        But for fun lets say China just steps out all together and the US is free to attack NK themselves. What then? Do we try to merge it with South Korea? Do we annex it ourselves and try to hold it as a colony? Attempt to set up a puppet government which has worked oh-so-well in South America and the Middle East when we've tried it before. Or do we just destroy everything and then walk away and leave them to their own devices? Merging with SK sounds like the best option but that's a lot of hatred built up over the last few decades so that wouldn't be easy by any means (never mind the purely practical aspect of figuring out how to de-mine the neutral zone.) And none of the other options sound particularly good either.

        ashamed to have let the Cancer that is North Korea live for so long.

        North Korea is bad but its not the worst we've seen, or ignored. We've got an ongoing genocide in Myanmar right now. It was only a couple of years ago that Syria was using chemical weapons against its own citizens. Rwanda wasn't all that long ago and the list goes on. Sure we took a pot shot at Syria, more because Trump wanted try blowing something up after he came into office than because it actually accomplished anything, but otherwise we've pretty much left all of those things (and many others) to play themselves out.

        Malnutrition and hard work, no matter how repressive, is still better than being flat out slaughtered in most peoples' opinions.. especially when you're comparing a slow, painful death like the sarin gas attacks in Syria.

        • by dwpro ( 520418 )
          It's a lot more than forced labor (though the labor camps are exceedingly horrid). The un-freedom is palpable in so many facets of NK society, from the surveillance state to the ubiquitous propaganda. Punishments for lack of fealty can extend to your entire family out to 3rd cousins. For those who value freedom slaughter might be preferable.
          • by Altrag ( 195300 )

            People who've never known freedom definitely do not value it as much as you or I, and the will to survive is an exceptionally strong driving factor in human psychology.

      • You assume there will be a world left once thermonuclear WW3 commences. North Korea is like that scrappy little bitch that starts enough trouble for the big boys to jump in - China, Russia, US, Japan, India, Pakistan, and ME at large.

  • by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 )
    and free vacation in a concentration camp if you use more than 1 MB :)
  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Thursday December 28, 2017 @12:49PM (#55822587)
    One last chance to hack foreigners' devices on their way out of the country, when they're burned out, less attentive, anxious to connect to the outside world, and jumping right into checking email and other communications. Gee, I wonder why they'd try this.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I connect to any available Wi-Fi without regard for security concerns. In a country known for hacking.

    No wonder the mainstream media is sinking fast.

    • If you read his posts you'd know sever things about him:
      1) he *assumes* everything is on the record and monitored at all levels while in country.
      2) he has completely different kit for in and out of DPRK.

      Given that context having his phone or any other device hacked doesn't actually impact him as he's operating on the assumption that such compromise has already happened.

      I assume (no overt post saying so, but given his other posts it seems likely) that once back in Japan he dumps everything DPRK related into

    • I'm more concerned with his tourism money going towards Kim Jong Un's nuclear program.

  • That's because the only one who got the real password is Dennis Rodman.

  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Thursday December 28, 2017 @01:04PM (#55822705)

    North Korea is one of the least Wi-Fi-friendly countries in the world.

    They could drop the word Wi-Fi from that sentence and it would still be true. I really cannot fathom any sane reason to travel to that country.

    • by lazarus ( 2879 )

      I'm not sure why we don't airdrop one million InReach sat communicators on the country and wait for the revolution to start. It seems like it would be way cheaper than aircraft carriers and wargames.

      • Because that would be much less fun for those who run the show.
      • Here is my thought to peacefully topple NK.
        Line up, on the border, elbow to elbow, huge tables of fresh food, and grills cooking all manner of food (steak, ribs, BBQ, you name it.)
        Then run giant fans blowing the food smell to the North Korean side.
        Put up monster sized banners saying "free, all you can eat, come one, come all"

        NK would fall within a day. No shots fired.

      • I suggested something like that too in 2000 about mesh-networked communicators: https://www.dougengelbart.org/... [dougengelbart.org]
        "Consider millions of these devices airdropped into Iraq and Yugoslavia -- instead of more expensive cruise missiles! Anybody got $1 billion to spend on ensuring democracy with a true defense against tyranny in those places? (This is probably what the U.S. military's spends on gas/oil for a month cruising the area...) "

        Although, as with Germans occupiers during WWII making it illegal to own radi

    • Curiosity. To me ot is saner than wanting to stand on the highest mountain in the world.

    • We seem to have concentrated our world societies into a very small band, based on moderated capitalism with varying degrees of democracy.
      We all know that mono cultures are risky, subject to single points of attack.
      So itâ(TM)s worth looking at alternatives. And there are not many in the world. North Korea is definitely different. Not nice perhaps, but definitely different.

      It is foolish to believe the systems we use are the only ones possible, or even workable, not to say arrogant.

    • I really cannot fathom any sane reason to travel to that country.

      The world is (supposed to be) a slightly better place every time a news reporter travels somewhere to get a story. At least in theory.

      • The world is (supposed to be) a slightly better place every time a news reporter travels somewhere to get a story. At least in theory.

        Except they pretty much don't get any stories out of North Korea. Normally I'd agree with you but the hermit kingdom is locked down so tight that the notion of journalists uncovering something big by going there is a fantasy.

    • > They could drop the word Wi-Fi from that sentence and it would still be true. I really cannot fathom any sane reason to travel to that country.

      Money of course. Journalists, photographers, and other people that make money going into dangerous areas to show us how it looks like and what's going on there.

      Not many people go to NK, so great opportunity to make money. And before you say, oh but you can do something less dangerous, well .. It's not easy to make money.. it's easy to be a wage slave like
  • Ever been on a german airport?
    If it has free wifi, you can access the airport news, flights and landings, and the weather, that's it.
    For 'internet' you either pay $5 for an hour or two or $20 for a day.

    Regarding internet and WiFi Germany is the most backyard country I ever experienced, but well, resident customers have 20Mbit and up connections ... not sure how gould that is when my cellular connection in Denmark or Thailand *feels* faster.

    • Bypassing all that is trivial with DNS tunneling apps, of which there are many for Android. You will not be able to stream movies, but you will sure be able to read email, news, and do basic netsurfing. At no cost.
      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        Bypassing all that is trivial with DNS tunneling apps

        Maybe. My local coffee shop has a 1 hour free WiFi service. Just go to the service 'logon' page and acknowledge the usage rules. But you can't get around the router, even if you have an IP address. It routes traffic based on your MAC address and won't let traffic through without a visit to the 'I Agree' button. Or after your 1 hour session has expired.

        I have observed numerous users pound on keys and swear at the service. One day, the shop owner asked me to put together a set of instructions that she could

      • by ledow ( 319597 )

        You seem overly confident that they are just intercepting unencrypted DNS queries to replace them with an internal IP, rather than... well... just blocking anything to anything other than the internal IPs.

        I don't know what shit networks you've been on, but on anything I've ever used with public-facing Wifi, DNS tricks will do nothing like you suggest.

        Literally, you get firewalled down to the internal IP address ranges and redirected to them constantly, until you pay/sign up/log in, when you then have Intern

    • Beijing airport gives free WiFi... but you need a Chinese mobile phone number to get the authorisation code that will let you log in.
  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Thursday December 28, 2017 @01:28PM (#55822881)

    I feel incredibly sorry for the poor North Korean woman who was staffing the Internet booth. I'm sure in the context of North Korea that's probably a prestigious job and she was clearly not in a position to do anything to solve the actual technical problem (which is probably to just bypass a ridiculously over-anal spying firewall).

    I can only imagine what the Nork government are doing to her and 3 generations of her family right now because they interpret the incident to be that she caused a westerner.to see that North Korean infrastructure is anything less than perfect.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      I can only imagine what the Nork government are doing to her and 3 generations of her family right now because they interpret the incident to be that she caused a westerner.to see that North Korean infrastructure is anything less than perfect.

      And why can't we do that to Comcast?

    • I can only imagine what the Nork government are doing to her and 3 generations of her family right now because they interpret the incident to be that she caused a westerner.to see that North Korean infrastructure is anything less than perfect.

      I think without meaning to, you've actually hit on how Stalinist dictatorial regimes stay in power. Probably this specific incident isn't a big deal and nothing happens to anybody. But that is kind of how these regimes survive. You never really know what exactly is going to set off the top guy or somebody near him. People think that if they act loyally that they never have to worry about someone coming after them, but that's not true at all. Your neighbor can have a grudge against you and report you a

  • Ferdinand Marcos learned the hard way - once you start giving your vassals (even controlled) access to some of the accoutrements of the modern world in an attempt to keep them mollified, what generally happens is they eventually figure out just how awful their life is compared to people who live elsewhere. And it doesn't end well for you.

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday December 28, 2017 @02:34PM (#55823293) Homepage Journal

      Killing Benigno Aquino is what toppled Marcos' regime. I actually met Aquino when he was an MIT fellow. My first reaction when I heard he was going back was "Marcos will have him killed." Doing it before Aquino even got off the tarmac was a mistake; he should have met with an "accident". But then that was only the culmination of a whole train of mistakes, which started by allowing a young, charismatic politician to become the focus of opposition hopes.

      So your analogy doesn't really work. The lesson for a tyrant is don't let your opponents become publicly notable. Keep people you can't trust inside the country where you can watch them and restrict them effectively. If they do manage leave the country, don't let them back in, or even adopt the pretense that they're free to return. Kill them while they are *languishing* in exile with no prospect of return. These are all lessons the DPRK has followed assiduously.

      Practice makes perfect applies to tyranny as much as anything else, you just can't be half-hearted or half-assed about it.

  • I will be right there!

  • Of all the places in the world where you should NOT trust an open WiFi hot spot, North Korea would be #1 on any list.

    And WTF was the author doing in North Korea?

  • disguising your equipment in such a unusual place, to monitor occidental citizen who are traveling to and from Pyongyang is a masterpiece indeed!
  • At best you get a shitty censored dial up quality connection. At worst the Norks are packet sniffing everything coming from every single device that connects and helping themselves to anything of value that they can exploit while you sit there.
  • hahahhaha north korea has no one to defend it this time, it challenges my master and therefore challenges me for submitting to him, its time to pick up some easy self esteem points with a misplaced dominance display

    OMFG those fucking retards cant even do wifi wtf i can do wifi WHAT THE FCUK omfg lol we are so much better i am so glad i have an example of how bad my life would be if i didn't believe every single fucking thing the media fed me

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