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Reddit Brings Down North Korea's Entire Internet (mirror.co.uk) 137

After a North Korean system administrator misconfigured its nameserver allowing anyone to query it and get the list of the domains that exist for .kp, it was revealed that the secretive country only has 28 websites. That's 28 websites for a country with nearly 25 million people. Naturally, the story was published all across the web, including on Reddit, which resulted in a high number of users visiting North Korea's websites. Mirror.co.uk reports: When a list of North Korea's available websites was posted on Reddit, the surge of visitors to the reclusive state's online offering overloaded the servers. North Korea runs a completely locked-down version of the internet that consists of only 28 "websites" that the population is allowed to view. However, a technical slip-up allowed a GitHub user to work their way into the country's computer network and view the websites from the outside. As the GitHub user puts it: "One of North Korea's top level name servers was accidentally configured to allow global [Domain Name System] transfers. This allows anyone who performs [a zone transfer request] to the country's ns2.kptc.kp name server to get a copy of the nation's top level DNS data." Pretty soon, links to all the websites were posted on Reddit, where thousands of visitors took the opportunity to see what the web looks like from Pyongyang. Reddit's surge of traffic isn't the first time North Korea's internet has been knocked out. In 2014, the country suffered a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that was believed to have originated from the U.S. Redditor BaconBakin points out that while North Korea has 28 websites, GTA V has 83 websites. They added, "I think it's safe to say that San Andreas is more technologically advanced than North Korea."
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Reddit Brings Down North Korea's Entire Internet

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @07:47PM (#52935071)

    someone probably died for this mistake

    • Probably, if they've even figured out the problem yet.

    • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @08:01PM (#52935159)

      someone probably died for this mistake

      Are you kidding? I'll bet nobody can figure out who to blame... I can imagine the wild shuffling with the CYA memos flying about in a sea of paper that has sheet after sheet that says "It's not my fault, shoot Kim so and so...."

      It's bad enough here in the capitalist side when it's just money and jobs at stake. Can you image how this goes when the guy who finally get's fingered has to face the Anti-Aircraft guns at short range and take his relatives along for the event?

      You can bet though, that if lit'l Kim thinks he lost face, *somebody*, *anybody* and perhaps even everybody involved will face the music..

    • Why ? It brought millions of people to read their propaganda and see how "great" their country is for tourism. Free advertising. Tourism will see a boost in the coming months thanks to that guy.

      As for the servers, they're probably OK, since most likely what has been saturated is the link between Korea and the rest of the world, which is not used by NK people anyway.

      • Free advertising.

        Which is not considered a thing - neither a good thing nor a bad thing. This whole stupid thing of having choice is just stupid. You're not thinking like an economic planner.

        Tourism will see a boost in the coming months thanks to that guy.

        This will not happen, and even if it did (it can't) would not be considered a good thing.

        How are you going to have a boost in tourism? People would have to get visas and then get trains in (tickets won't be sold, if there are non-freight trains at all),

    • by barc0001 ( 173002 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @08:30PM (#52935281)

      Why is this being rated funny? It's probably true. Or if not, then they ended up in a "work camp".

    • More then one.

      There family and maybe even the teacher

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What sick fuck modded this funny?

      Seriously people. Inappropriate! This is coming from someone who has a sick dark sense of humor.

      Someone probably did actually lose their life for this.

      • Par for the course - all human tragedy reduced to obvious zingers and all new things being announced summed up with snide insults, because everyone here is too smart and too cool to post with a humane, considered response.
        It's not even that someone may well have died, there's a solid possibility members of their family got sentenced to work camps for 10 or 20 years just for being related. That pudgy little fuck plays like a comic idiot but the harsh reality he's a paranoid psycho desperately holding onto po

    • First Boston, now North Korea...what's next?
    • Maybe, but I think it isn't likely. The internet is such a minor part of North Korea that taking it out probably didn't do much of anything in terms of productivity or entertainment. I can see people getting yelled at, having to do self criticism sessions, or get fired. But the internet simply isn't important enough for executions. And hell, infrastructure breaks or doesn't work properly there all the time. If they executed people for every mistake the only person alive would be the Dear Leader (who's infal
    • someone probably died for this mistake

      That's the whole problem people keep missing! He was killed while he was working on the DNS changes and there was no one set to salute some imaginary spot in the air, while turning their feet like a military maneuver, and resume the changes!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You just started WW3. captcha: invading

  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @07:51PM (#52935095)

    You capitalist pigs cannot access it because der Leader has decreed it so! (and somebody just pulled the cable from the PRNK side of our border router).

    Reddit didn't do anything! It was ALL part of our plan to get attention....

    • You capitalist pigs cannot access it because der Leader has decreed it so! (and somebody just pulled the cable from the PRNK side of our border router).

      Reddit didn't do anything! It was ALL part of our plan to get attention....

      "Has decreed..." You crazy /. person, you. It was his plan all along! If he can distract a few people for a minute or two, he can launch 42 nukes unnoticed and destroy the Internet-distracted' world! He's so smart!
      *cough*

  • "while North Korea has 28 websites, GTA V has 83 websites. They added, "I think it's safe to say that San Andreas is more technologically advanced than North Korea.""

    quite apart from the notion about websites being in "san andreas", is number of websites a good criteria to judge level of technology?

    imo, no.

    • by ChunderDownunder ( 709234 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @08:12PM (#52935207)

      I think what they're trying to say is,
      it was San Andreas' fault.

    • ...is number of websites a good criteria to judge level of technology?

      When 28 websites represents an entire fucking country in the year 2016, yes. Yes, it does.

      Well, that, and an entire generation of shitty haircuts.

      • by tsqr ( 808554 )

        ...is number of websites a good criteria to judge level of technology?

        When 28 websites represents an entire fucking country in the year 2016, yes. Yes, it does.

        Well, that, and an entire generation of shitty haircuts.

        On the upside, with only 28 websites they don't really need domain name services, right?

        • On the upside, with only 28 websites they don't really need domain name services, right?

          Are you suggesting they should use... HOST FILES?

          • by tsqr ( 808554 )

            On the upside, with only 28 websites they don't really need domain name services, right?

            Are you suggesting they should use... HOST FILES?

            No, not at all. I'm suggesting that in a few minutes a person could access and bookmark all 28 websites via IP address.

            • On the upside, with only 28 websites they don't really need domain name services, right?

              Are you suggesting they should use... HOST FILES?

              No, not at all. I'm suggesting that in a few minutes a person could access and bookmark all 28 websites via IP address.

              Oh, come on, y'all. Go easy on the poor bastards. They're still practicing on their training wheels.

      • ...is number of websites a good criteria to judge level of technology?

        When 28 websites represents an entire fucking country in the year 2016, yes. Yes, it does.

        Well, that, and an entire generation of shitty haircuts.

        I think each of the sites, themselves, can be declared (bullshit) adware.

    • by Xest ( 935314 )

      I'd say a good level of technological advancement is knowing that GTA V is based in a mythical Los Santos, and not in San Andreas which featured in a GTA game released way back in 2004.

      • I noticed this just because I recognize that I am an out-of-touch fogy, and thought it was suspicious that San Andreas was still relevant in GTA.

        But 2004? Man, I feel old.

        • Los Santos (based on Los Angeles) is a city that's located in the state of San Andreas (based on California). Time to bone up on fictional geography!

  • by SensitiveMale ( 155605 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @07:55PM (#52935127)

    Not kidding. When I was in specialized military training program we saw crazy looking dude with a unkempt uniform and absolutely no personal hygiene. We made a couple snide remarks amongst ourselves and later mentioned the guy to an instructor.

    He told us that the guy was from Saudi Arabia. He also told us that every foreigner in the school always passed. A few years back, he didn't specify how many, a Saudi officer took the course and failed. The government beheaded him and apologized to the school.

    So, good job Reddit. If he had a family, their probably gone as well.

    • by wickerprints ( 1094741 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @08:18PM (#52935231)

      You can't blame Redditors for being responsible for a despotic regime's policies of executing anyone who upsets or embarrasses the leadership. The blame lies squarely at the top. It always has, and this is precisely why it is a basic human right to live in a free and just society.

      But while we're at it, I dare say that the blame for North Korea's situation also lies with its people. I know that the people are brainwashed, poor, coerced. The Western media likes to characterize the DPRK as a tyrannical government enslaving its hapless citizens, because doing so conveniently focuses the blame on the regime. But that same regime does not operate in a vacuum, as isolated as it is from the rest of the world. The reality is that a large segment of North Korean society actually believes the propaganda that is fed to them, much like how many Americans believe the propaganda they are exposed to. Being shown stark evidence that their worldview is wrong, such people actually redouble their fervor in supporting the narrative they have been led to believe. This phenomenon, carefully exploited, is the seed of fascism.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @09:06PM (#52935415)

        "much like how many Americans believe the propaganda they are exposed to"
        Americans have unfettered access to numerous sources of information each spouting their own version of the facts and biases. In your arrogance you some how believe you are the only one who understands the truth. And stop with the generalizations of "Americans". "Americans" are suppose to be fat and lazy but some how end up dominating the world in international sporting events such as the Olympics. "Americans" are supposed to be knuckle dragging idiots but some how lead the world in technological advances and it's Universities and Colleges admit students from all over the world. "Americans" are suppose to be nothing but a bunch of racists and xenophobes but people are lined up in front of American foreign embassies trying to get visas and start the paperwork for immigrating to the US. Others don't bother with the formalities and just enter illegally, How many people are standing in line to immigrate to China, Russia, NK, Mexico, and similar hell holes throughout the world. The US has the most diverse population on the planet. All nationalities, ethnic groups, and races. People bitch and moan about US military bases around the world and then go into a blind panic every time the US even mentions downsizing and closing bases.

        • by wickerprints ( 1094741 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @11:34PM (#52936077)

          You seem to have magnified the import of my original statement in your mind.

          In relative terms, Americans are indeed far more diverse in their viewpoints and backgrounds than virtually all other nationalities on the planet. And yes, in with respect to access to information, Americans do have the ability to investigate on their own and are, again, relatively much more free to express their own ideas and positions.

          However, many (which is the exact word I used in my previous post) Americans are horribly susceptible to propaganda. It is also true that there are many Americans who are smart enough to detect such sophistry. Of course, the United States is not unique in this; any nation's citizens are vulnerable to the machinations of those in power. This has been demonstrated throughout American history and more broadly, world history; but it is all the more evident in the current geopolitical climate. Free access to information and freedom of expression are only parts of the story; these are not in themselves sufficient to inoculate society against the persistent threat of tyranny, as the Founding Fathers had recognized. What they perhaps did not anticipate was the slow encroachment of ignorance upon the public; the systemic failure to educate people, to teach them how to think and reason for themselves. (The familiar saying, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink" applies here.)

          Consequently, political partisanship in the US has recently led to explicit jingoistic, xenophobic, and racist violence. This is only possible for the reasons I already explained. And the notion of American exceptionalism is merely one manifestation--albeit a rather stark one--of the more fundamental inability to accept facts that contradict an existing worldview when the emotional and cultural investment into that worldview has been considerable and lifelong.

          To circle back to North Korea, then, we can see through the lens of history that despotic regimes do not simply appear de novo in a society. They come to power through the exploitation and manipulation of fear, and the slow but steadily increasing intellectual disenfranchisement of each passing generation. We saw this in China during the Cultural Revolution; Russia in the rise of the Soviet Union and more recently, the collusion of the oligarchs to permanently place Putin in power; and Germany post World-War I. The United States, if it is not careful, is just as susceptible, despite the protections afforded by the Constitution, so long as some Americans wallow in their own self-delusions of greatness and superiority. In the course of human civilization, 240 years is but a blink of an eye.

      • by ttsai ( 135075 )

        I dare say that the blame for North Korea's situation also lies with its people. I know that the people are brainwashed, poor, coerced. The Western media likes to characterize the DPRK as a tyrannical government enslaving its hapless citizens, because doing so conveniently focuses the blame on the regime. But that same regime does not operate in a vacuum, as isolated as it is from the rest of the world.

        Yes, the North Korean people are to at least partially to blame, just like battered wives bear some blame for their situation. That the West characterizes the North Korea government in an almost cartoonish light is due entirely to the unbelievable disconnect of its leadership from any norms of social interaction.

        You are wrong, and the blame lies entirely with the leadership.

        • by tezbobobo ( 879983 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @11:26PM (#52936055) Homepage Journal

          Actually, it is more likely a combination of both, but not in the way you think. I can think of a number of effects at play

          Firstly, we know that Nazi's used Jews as guards and administrators in the death camps. Why'd they do it? Fear of individual persecution, and a desire to achieve a better circumstance. In situations like this it makes sense to sell out your neighbour for personal gain. I guess you'd call it a combination of greed and fear.

          Secondly, there is the fact that they live in a controlling regime that makes dissent very difficult. Specifically you should google the Hawthorne effect. Basically, if there is a chance you're under surveillance then you alter your behaviour accordingly. They government tries to either achieve of implement panopticism (google it).

          Thirdly, North Korea constitutes what social psychologists and political scientists call 'total instutionalism'. They've been cut off so well (28 websites remember) and so long that they are not only disconnected from the outside world, it doesn't exist to them. I mean, they know it is there, but they know nothing about it. They may never have heard the world revolution.

          Fourthly, social facilitation in a police state is completely different than in a liberal democracy. You never know who is going to dob you in.

          Finally, there are probably some people who just plain believe the lies. They've grown up with the indoctrination and just buy in.

          I think it is a discredit to ourselves to try and say this is just a lazy population or an overbearing dictator. There are a number of complex social psychological phenomenons happening, as well as a totalitarian power structure. The problem is hard to understand. The solution is easy though - great leader will be the first guy with his back against the wall when the revolution comes.

          • by ttsai ( 135075 )

            Actually, it is more likely a combination of both, but not in the way you think. I can think of a number of effects at play

            I think there is a key distinction between moral blame and possible choices.

            The moral blame is 100% on the leadership. Yes, the oppressed could do something about it. They could muster exceptional courage in the face of tremendous psychological pressure. But that possibility, regardless of its probability of success, doesn't at all detract from the total blame that must be laid at the feet of the oppressors.

            Yes, the battered wife could have done something, but she has none of the blame.

            • I still think it is more complex than you're giving it credit. For example, The Glorious Leader is a bad guy - he's really responsible. And he tells the general's what to do, so they're responsible.

              Lets use one of them as an example, say the minister for corrective services. He's responsible for the people tortured and killed in prison camps. Right? He tells the directors of the prisons what to do, so they're responsible. But they may not be the one's who are ordering all the people tortured and killed,

              • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

                It goes the other way too, the leadership may not be aware of all the details.
                They may not be aware that prisoners are being tortured or experimented on, or they just might not care, but they may not have directly ordered these actions to be carried out.

          • "they are not only disconnected from the outside world, it doesn't exist to them. I mean, they know it is there, but they know nothing about it."

            Well, that also fits your standard American fellow, doesn't it?

            • In a facetious sense, yep. :)

              Realistically, if an American wants education, they can get it. Further, if I want to educate Americans (I'm not one) then I can travel to your country, stand on the corner and shout obscenities about Trump, Clinton, Obama... whoever.

              The NKs have no access to media outside the country, low education prospects. People can't easily get information to them. The risk of having a contrary opinion is death, as is the risk of espousing it.

              That being said, as a non-American, I think Am

    • So, good job Reddit. If he had a family, their probably gone as well.

      And here we are discussion this story on the front page, likely further helping spread the word and making other people interested in accessing those sites further putting them under load.

      You Monster!

      • Maybe 5 years ago.

        Not on the Slashdot of today. Remember when it was Slashdot that used to be responsible for the largest Internet stampedes? Those days are long fucking gone.

        • Those days are long fucking gone.

          We still cause an internet stampede, just that modern day networks are far more resilient to such assault. I can serve up on my cable modem more bandwidth than some hosts could back in the day.

          Speaking of back in the day, you realise we're talking about a country with 28 websites right? How many CDNs do you think they use to serve up their websites and just how well distributed do you think they are around the globe? Hell I'm surprise they don't crash when someone pings them.

  • the country would have been Slashdotted.

  • 28 websites? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lego_boy_aus ( 1020533 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @08:46PM (#52935333)
    Being a tech site, I'm curious: When did a registered domain become referred to as a single website. Having looked at the articles, I see plenty of reference to 28 domains, but no mention of how many sub-domains each has, nor how many sites (blogs/static page/wiki/whatever) are hosted on each domain, and so I was wondering why it is being categorically stated here that there are only 28 websites. My understanding has always been that there can be multiple websites on a single domain, but Slashdot seems to be equating 1 domain=1 website here (and on looking at the links, even some inaccessible domains are being categorised as websites, when it is equally possible they are registered purely for email and have no webpages attached).
    • Not to mention that a website does not need to have a domain name.
    • If we went back in time to when there only was 28 domains, I'd bet you a Mars Bar that there were only 28 websites.

      Think about it, you have the entire DNS under your personal control. Why would you need subdomains when you can create any domain you want?

    • Yeah, this was my observation when I first saw this mentioned. It made no sense to call the 28 domains mentioned web sites especially when a few appear to be nameservers (hence the ns. prefix.) Oh well. I guess it's too much to expect the original reporter to actually talk to someone who knows what they are talking about or maybe they did and went with the headline that would garner more views.
    • You are a tech site?
    • by ookaze ( 227977 )

      To me it was obvious from day one that this "news" did not make sense. It doesn't on so many technical levels (like assuming the nameserver being one root server for all .kp, though it is never explicitely said).

      One more attack against NK, completely oblivious to reality.
      Everything that goes out about NK in western media is only pure propaganda, and it's clearly apparent, when on every news about NK, nobody dares saying anything against this propaganda, everything is exactly one voice of conspiracy theories

    • Being a tech site, I'm curious: When did a registered domain become referred to as a single website.

      Having looked at the articles, I see plenty of reference to 28 domains, but no mention of how many sub-domains each has, nor how many sites (blogs/static page/wiki/whatever) are hosted on each domain, and so I was wondering why it is being categorically stated here that there are only 28 websites. My understanding has always been that there can be multiple websites on a single domain, but Slashdot seems to be equating 1 domain=1 website here (and on looking at the links, even some inaccessible domains are being categorised as websites, when it is equally possible they are registered purely for email and have no webpages attached).

      Come on, now.. They're a growing country. When you grow up, you have to get your own individual domain names. Imagery *coughbullcrapcough* is everything.

  • It's hard to believe now, but Slashdot used to be able to do this too. Of course these days the slashdot effect would be lucky to bring up a few ads for lawn care and hip replacements.
  • I backed it up on 8" floppy.

  • by PPH ( 736903 )

    I thought Best Korea's domain was .bk

    • I thought Best Korea's domain was .bk

      It is.. but you have it all wrong here... this TLD is the Korea Propaganda one. It's all part of the masterminded Kim-whatever's thing... you know, the one to show people about the stuff? Great place. You should go to school there. Hell, we all should. So much to learn from the collective. Details at tc.edu.pk. I can't get to it right now, but it's a very good site to show you all of the bullcrap you want to see before you're attacked by the good marionettes in happy land! Raaarrrrr!

      Okay, smartass

  • Call me a domain Nazi, but not every registered domain is a website, and there could be many websites hosted on the same domain (including, but not limited to subdomains), and multiple domains can resolve to the same IP/website. Is Google one website? Even Gmail is a subdomain of google.com. So we can't say for sure how many websites there are in North Korea based solely on domain data.

    (So much for a Unicode support?)

  • GTA V (Score:5, Interesting)

    by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Thursday September 22, 2016 @02:04AM (#52936645)

    Redditor BaconBakin points out that while North Korea has 28 websites, GTA V has 83 websites. They added, "I think it's safe to say that San Andreas is more technologically advanced than North Korea."

    Not necessarily. If everything you could ever need is at one website, then there is no need for thousands. I would call that advanced.

    • by zoefff ( 61970 )

      Mark Z. would call that facebook...

      Anyway, so where do I find the nukes in GTA V?

    • Not necessarily. If everything you could ever need is at one website, then there is no need for thousands. I would call that advanced.

      Fearless Leader might describe it that way, but I think it's more that everything they're allowed to see is at one website. That's the opposite of advanced.

  • I wouldn't want to be the guy who misconfigured the DNS server and brought shame to the nation and his great leader. He's probably already dead.
  • . . . banned from /r/pyongyang.
  • Though I guess my age is showing in that. Slashdot isn't slashdotting much anymore these days.

  • Easiest.....sysadmin.....job....ever

    Admin for only 28 domains and yet still managed to botch the firewall ACL(s?)

  • Netcraft confirming the sites' activities bringing them down again.

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