Speaking to reporters after a four-day jaunt to North Korea, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt called on North Korea to end its ban on Internet access. North Korea's refusal to allow more Web access "is very much going to affect their physical world," Schmidt said, adding that it's time for the nation's totalitarian authorities to loosen their grasp on the Web. . North Korea, which has 23 million citizens, bans access to independent information and has set up a Western-free intranet. Schmidt was accompanied on his trip by former New Mexico governor and former UN ambassador Bill Richardson, as well as another Google exec. The delegation did not meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, who has paid lip service to the idea of laxer regulation on technology like the Internet. Meanwhile, a timely Reuters article discusses how Google Earth "presents a bird's eye view" of North Korean prison camps. Citing international human rights groups, Reuters reports that up to 250,000 political prisoners … [Read more...] about Schmidt Concludes N. Korea Trip With Plea to End Internet Ban
By John P. Mello Jr. Jan 13, 2015 2:34 PM PT FBI Director James Comey has "very high confidence" that North Korea was behind last November's cyberattack on Sony, he said at a cybersecurity forum held last week at Fordham University. The attack resulted in large amounts of intellectual property, confidential communications and employee data being posted on the Internet for public view. New evidence of the link includes documentation of the hackers' failure to cover their tracks with proxy servers on several occasions, Comey said. Most of the time, the hackers, who called themselves the "Guardians of Peace," obfuscated the paths of their communications, the director explained, but several times they got "sloppy" and exposed their home IP addresses -- all used exclusively by North Koreans. Comey's remarks bolstered the Obama administration's decision to impose sanctions on North Korea, but some critics have expressed reservations over the FBI's conclusions. No Smoking Gun "I know a … [Read more...] about The Convoluted Trail Linking North Korea to Sony
Sequoia Capital recently led a US$100 million round of funding for South Korean retailer Coupang, suggesting that the rapidly growing Korean e-commerce market is the hot new scene for investors looking to capitalize on a country full of mobile shoppers. Kim launched the store when he realized there was a market itch in Korea that he could scratch -- his native country was full of smartphone users that loved to shop, but lacked a leading online platform for doing so. After securing early funding from investors including Greenoaks Capital Management and Rose Park Advisors' Disruptive Innovation Fund, Kim launched Coupang in 2010. The company originally was modeled like a daily deal site such as Groupon -- the "cou" in Coupang comes from the word "coupon" -- but since has branched out to include merchandise and is now more of a marketplace like Amazon. It still offers deals on things like travel packages, tickets to events or local attractions, but it also serves as a one-stop shop for … [Read more...] about Coupang’s on Fire in Korea’s Hot M-Commerce Climate
The visit to North Korea this week by a team led by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has stirred up controversy. McCain's statement has drawn fire from readers of an article on the visit published in the Independent. Meanwhile, in a move that may further inflame the U.S. government, North Korea has claimed that the delegation paid tribute to Pyongyang's late leaders, Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il, the Telegraph reported. Who's There? There are reportedly nine people in the group. They apparently include Richardson's daughter, Sophie, and Jared Cohen, director of the Google Ideas think tank. The visit is not official but a private humanitarian mission, Richardson and Schmidt have said. It's been reported that Schmidt's interested in the social aspects of the North Korean economy. Washington Finger-Wagging Both Richardson and Schmidt were well aware of U.S. concerns about the timing of their planned trip, U.S. State Department spokesperson … [Read more...] about Schmidt’s Visit May Help Open Up North Korea
Google has added more detail to its map of North Korea this week, giving users a better glimpse into the infrastructure of the highly secretive country. Much of the map is still relatively blank compared with Google's detailed maps of other countries. In some parts, though, the map shows information such as roads, schools, parks and waterways, especially near the capital and largest city, Pyongyang. The map also features shaded areas where prison camps, or gulags, are believed to be located. The map was mostly put together by "citizen cartographers" using its Google Map Maker tool, the company said. The crowd-sourcing feature, first launched in 2008, allows users to add information such as roads, landmarks, bodies of water or buildings to existing Google Maps. Map Maker is available in more than 200 countries, but is especially useful in places like North Korea where geospatial information isn't widely available. Google said efforts to boost the country's maps have been going on for a … [Read more...] about Google Peels Away Some of North Korea’s Mystery
This post is about an on-going IT whodunit. Late afternoon last Tuesday, South Korea's National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, aka Nonghyup or NH Bank, experienced a system-wide crash that halted all of its banking transactions at 1710 local time. According to various Korean news reports, customers were unable to make ATM deposits or withdrawals, nor conduct any on-line or phone banking, or make use of in-bank deposit or withdrawal services. Some 30 million account holders of the bank - which owns the largest banking network in South Korea - were affected by the massive outage. Partial services - including the use of ATMs along with Internet and phone banking - were reportedly "restored" by Wednesday afternoon. NH bank said that while it wasn't exactly sure of what the problem was, it wasn't caused by outside hacking as in the case of Hyundai Capital. The bank did pinpoint the problem to "an IBM transmission server at a computing center in southern Seoul," this article last … [Read more...] about South Korean NH Banks Week-Long System Failure That Affected 30 Million An Inside Job?
North Korea's controversial Unha-3 rocket launched today and exploded about a minute into flight. According to the New York Times: On Friday, the satellite disintegrated in a different kind of fireworks. The rocket carrying it exploded midair about one minute after the liftoff, according to American, South Korean and Japanese officials. The rocket and satellite - which cost the impoverished country an estimated $450 million to build, according to South Korean government estimates - splintered into many pieces and plunged into the gray blue waters of the Yellow Sea. The launch, timed to honor the 100th anniversary of Kim Il-sung's birth, created tremendous international tension. Some countries, including the US, Britain, South Korea, and Japan had protested the launch as a violation of UN resolutions on nuclear and missile activity. The worry was that the satellite could be a cover for long-range missiles testing. North Korea maintained that it was an observation satellite, and … [Read more...] about North Koreas Unha-3 Rocket Launch Fails
Steven Cherry: Hi, this is Steven Cherry for IEEE Spectrum's "Techwise Conversations." You know the board game Go? Did you know that one of the top computer Go programs comes from North Korea? Did you know there are a number of major IT firms in North Korea? Did you know that there are IT firms in North Korea that accept foreign outsourcing contracts, just like IT companies in India and China do? One of them, the Korea Computer Center, has more than 1000 employees. The man who knows all these facts and more is Paul Tjia. He's a senior consultant and founder of GPI Consultancy, based in Rotterdam [in the Netherlands]. He's the author of Offshoring Information Technology: Sourcing and Outsourcing to a Global Workforce, a guide for business executives interested in offshore labor, and he wrote an article in this month's issue of Communications of the ACM titled "Inside the Hermit Kingdom: IT and Outsourcing in North Korea." He joins us by phone. Paul, welcome to the podcast. Paul … [Read more...] about For Outsourcing IT, Have You Considered North Korea?
Update, 19 December: The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation says "has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions." President Barack Obama told reporters that "we will respond proportionally and we will respond in a place and time and manner that we choose." He also called Sony's decision to cancel release of the "The Interview" a mistake. The idea of North Korea hacking a Hollywood studio in retaliation for making a comedy film about an assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong un might have sounded absurd at first. But U.S. officials say they have uncovered evidence of North Korea's involvement in the cyberattack on Sony Pictures and subsequent public leaking of a slew of internal corporate files ranging from embarassing executive e-mails to the upcoming slate of unreleased films. News publications such as theNew York Times cited "senior administration officials" as saying President Obama's administration was debating … [Read more...] about U.S. Officials Say North Korea Responsible for Sony Cyber Attack
The famous Stuxnet computer virus that sabotaged Iran's nuclear program apparently had a cousin designed to do the same to North Korea. But this other U.S. cyber attack failed because agents could not physically access the isolated computers of North Korea's nuclear program. Several U.S. intelligence sources told Reuters that the operation aimed at North Korea took place at the same time as the Stuxnet attack that crippled Iran's nuclear program in 2009 and 2010. The Stuxnet virus worked by hijacking the control software of fast-spinning centrifuges belonging to Iran's nuclear program. Once activated, Stuxnet caused physical destruction by forcing the centrifuges to spin out of control and tear themselves apart. The U.S. National Security Agency led a similar, unsuccessful effort with a modified Stuxnet aimed at taking down North Korean centrifuges. Both Iran and North Korea likely use similar centrifuges that can enrich uranium for either civilian purposes or to become weapons-grade … [Read more...] about Stuxnet-Style Virus Failed to Infiltrate North Koreas Nuclear Program
On Saturday, Team KAIST from South Korea emerged as the winner of the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) in Pomona, Calif., after its robot, an adaptable humanoid called DRC-HUBO, beat out 22 other robots from five different countries, winning the US $2 million grand prize. The robot's "transformer" ability to switch back and forth from a walking biped to a wheeled machine proved key to its victory. Many robots lost their balance and collapsed to the ground while trying to perform tasks such as opening a door or operating a drill. Not DRC-HUBO. Its unique design allowed it to perform tasks faster and, perhaps more important, stay on its feet-and wheels. "Bipedal walking [for robots] is not very stable yet," Jun Ho Oh, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology who led the KAIST Team, told IEEE Spectrum. "One single thing goes wrong, the result is catastrophic." He said a robot with a humanoid form has advantages when operating in a human … [Read more...] about How South Koreas DRC-HUBO Robot Won the DARPA Robotics Challenge
Update, 7 February 2016: North Korea declares that at 9 a.m. local time it launched an "earth observation satellite" into orbit. The launch was followed by condemnation by Japan, South Korea, and the United States, who doubt the peaceful intentions of such a test. Jim Oberg's own doubts stem from his on-the-ground observations of the North Korean space program in 2012. North Korea has told the United Nations' International Maritime Organization that it plans to launch a new space rocket this month, its first in more than three years. The stated aim of the launch is to deliver an Earth-observation satellite into orbit. But the plan, which comes hot on the heels of the country's nuclear test last month, has drawn criticism and concern from a number of countries, who point out that this same technology can be used to produce a ballistic missile with a range of thousands of miles. There is very good reason to suspect that the peaceful objective is camouflage for a weapons program. To … [Read more...] about Whats Behind North Koreas Space Launch? A View From the Inside
They already have a desktop application that integrates with a series of IM platforms like MSN and Facebook chat, translating your conversations in real-time so you can communicate with people around the world, but now they're ready to tackle the road. Intertainment is launching applications for iOS, BlackBerry, Android, and Windows Phone 7. Other mobile devices can go through the mobile web browser interface. Since I make my living as a freelance writer, I can see the value of such a service. This way, I can more easily work with clients whose first language isn't English. I don't have to pop back and forth, copying and pasting into Google Translate… though I don't work with too many clients who don't have some proficiency in English. Expect the mobile apps to roll out in Q2. Intertainment's Ortsbo Real Time Translator Continues to Accelerate as it Prepares to Launch Mobile Platform NEW YORK, NEW YORK and SAN MATEO, CALIFORNIA and TORONTO, CANADA-(Marketwire - March 7, 2011) - … [Read more...] about Ortsbo to Real Time Translate Your Mobile Chats Too
Is it safe to install North Korea Linux? North Korea’s version of Linux (Red Star OS) has gotten quite a bit of media coverage, and it’s also attracted the attention of some Linux users. One user wondered in a Reddit thread if it was safe to install Red Star OS to check it out. Behemoth9 started the thread with this post: Is it safe to install Red Star OS? I've seen people install it and get it running in a VM and stuff and it looks interesting but does it report home? I really want to give it a whirl but I'd rather not have Kim Jong Un watching me. I know that it comes with a ton of built in spyware but does it work outside of the DPRK? More at Reddit His fellow Linux redditors responded with their thoughts about North Korea Linux: [ Give yourself a technology career advantage with InfoWorld's Deep Dive technology reports and Computerworld's career trends reports. GET A 15% DISCOUNT through Jan. 15, 2017: Use code 8TIISZ4Z. ] TheMsDosNerd: “I don't know about Red … [Read more...] about Is it safe to install North Korea Linux?
SEOUL - In the next few months, South Korea will launch competing terrestrial and satellite-based multimedia broadcasting services, marking one of the first commercial showdowns for digital video content for mobile phones in the world. It's a gamble involving millions of dollars and could set a precedent for companies in other countries seeking to market subscription services for streaming bits of video, music and information. South Korea, with its savvy consumers who spend dead time on subways and buses glued to their cell phone sending text messages and playing games, is prime territory for a test run. In the U.S., Verizon Communications last month launched a limited 3G (third-generation) multimedia service, VCAST, in some cities on their broadband EV-DO network. For $15 a month, the service offers a range of video clips and news on handset models Verizon offers made by Korean electronic giants LG Electronics Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. [ Give yourself a technology career … [Read more...] about Land, satellite multimedia set for showdown in S. Korea
SEOUL - A Korean government antitrust committee will hear arguments Wednesday into whether Microsoft violated competition laws by bundling programs with its Windows XP operating system. Daum Communications, a Korean company that runs a popular Web portal and has its own instant messenger software, filed a complaint with the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) in September 2001. The company alleges that Microsoft abused its strong market position by tying Messenger with Windows XP, causing unspecified losses. "It is unfair for customers who should be able to evaluate and purchase products after their own comparisons," said Daum spokeswoman Park Hyun-jung Friday. "Microsoft already has 90 percent of the market share [for operating systems] in Korea." [ The Windows 10 developer’s dilemma: Go Universal or stick with the desktop? The choice won't be easy. | Stay up on key Microsoft technologies with the Enterprise Microsoft blog and Windows Report newsletter. ]Daum alleges the market … [Read more...] about Korea to hear Microsoft competition case
South Korea’s antitrust regulator fined Microsoft 33 billion won ($32 million) for violations of fair trade regulations and ordered the company to remedy alleged unfair trade practices on Wednesday, a Microsoft representative said. "We are very disappointed at the commission's decision," said Tom Burt, vice president and deputy general consul at Microsoft. "We will appeal the decision. We are quite confident we will win," he added. South Korea's Fair Trade Commission (FTC) ordered the world’s largest software maker to offer two versions of Windows in the country. In one version, Windows Media Player and Instant Messenger software must be removed; the other version must include links to Web sites that allow consumers to download comparable software offered by competitors. [ Take control of your Mac with 30 essential MacOS command-line tips. | Cut to the key news in technology trends and IT breakthroughs with the InfoWorld Daily newsletter, our summary of the top tech … [Read more...] about Update: Microsoft fined $32M by South Korea
The U.S. Department of State has described the timing of a proposed visit by Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt and others to North Korea as not "particularly helpful" in view of the Asian country's recent launch of a long-range rocket. A South Korean government official confirmed on Thursday a news report that Schmidt was traveling to North Korea on a personal visit. He is expected to be joined by former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson and his advisor Tony Namkung, according to the reports. Google declined to comment on the personal travel of its executives. [ Stay ahead of the key tech business news with InfoWorld's Today's Headlines: First Look newsletter. | Read Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog for what the key business trends mean to you. ] [ Have a tech story to share? If we publish it, we’ll send you a $50 American Express gift card — and keep you anonymous. Send it to [email protected] | We've all been there: 7 hardware horror stories from … [Read more...] about U.S. frowns on Eric Schmidt’s North Korea trip
North Korea was responsible for the devastating cyberattack on Sony Pictures, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation said Friday after a two-week investigation. The attack on Sony occurred in late November and resulted in the theft of thousands of files that, after being leaked online, proved highly embarrassing for the company. Financial documents, legal and business agreements, confidential information on employees and, perhaps most embarrassing of all, the entire email boxes of several senior executives. [ Deep Dive: How to rethink security for the new world of IT. | Discover how to secure your systems with InfoWorld's Security newsletter. ] "The FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions," it said in a statement. The FBI said its conclusion was based in part on similarities between malware used in the Sony attack and that used in attacks attributed to North Korea in the past. It said the infrastructure used to … [Read more...] about FBI concludes North Korea ‘responsible’ for Sony hack
Examine a night composite satellite image of the Earth. The areas that are well lit are, for the most part, regions of wealth and well-being. Darkness represents wilderness or poverty. A very small feature is particularly interesting. South Korea shines brightly while North Korea is dark; the demilitarized zone is the clear boundary. With the Berlin Wall gone, this border is now the most vivid illustration of the difference between communism and capitalism. Yet North Korea can, any time it so desires, make a light brighter than a thousand suns. At least that is the opinion of Florida Senator Bob Graham, chair of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee. “North Korea has at least two nuclear weapons,” he stated bluntly on Meet the Press recently. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is more cautious. In August 2001 he said that North Korea has the nuclear material to have between two and five nuclear weapons, but he did not claim that any had been built. The contrast between … [Read more...] about North Korea-the Next Iraq? – MIT Technology Review