With reports that North Korea has made nuclear missiles capable of reaching the West Coast, IT experts revealed exclusive details about Pyongyang’s new operating system with a high degree of paranoia.
The operating system – the Red Star – offers extreme snooping on its users and was made for the reason that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his friends in the government are too paranoid to use Windows or Apple Mac, according to the Daily Star.
Particularly, the North Korean leadership is too afraid that their potential war enemies – South Korea, Russia, the United States, and the West as a whole – could penetrate the communist country’s top secret documents with the help of their operating systems.
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In North Korea, where American and Western movies and media is banned, the growing numbers of people connecting to the Internet has made it difficult for the leadership of the communist country to keep its citizens on a short leash.
While North Koreans are denied access from the world wide web, a restricted intranet in the country grants access to several state media and governmentally approved websites.
Kim Jong-un’s complete control over North Koreans
However, the citizens that crave to take a peek at the Western world at least through movies, news articles and books, use SD cards or USB sticks so that the government will not be able to trace them back.
But the government has come up with a way to suppress the hunger for Western culture in North Korean rebels by allowing computers running on the Red Star to secretly tag USB sticks or media files connected to it.
Expectedly, the Red Star copies Western versions of the operating system, according to Florian Grunow and Niklaus Schiess of the German IT security company ERNW, who managed to download a copy from outside the region.
Grunow said that the operating system “definitely” invades privacy of its users and that it’s “not transparent to the user. It’s done stealthily, and touches files you haven’t even opened,” as reported by the Daily Star.
The security expert added that the Red Star, which has been active for nearly a decade, is an incredible undertaking. “This is a full blown operation system where they control most of the code. Maybe this is a bit fear-driven.”
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Moreover, if a rebellious user attempts to make any changes in the system’s core function, such as, for example, disabling firewall or the antivirus, the computer displays an error message and reboots itself.
“They may want to be independent of other operating systems because they fear back-doors which might allow others to spy on them,” Grunow said.
Last year, North Korea was believed to be behind a number of major hacks of U.S. computer systems, including the Sony leak, which was a revenge for the movie ‘The Interview’, starring James Franco and Seth Rogen, which made fun of leader Kim Jong-Un.
However, according to Grunow, there is little evidence that North Korea could be linked to cyber-security hacks on U.S. computer systems that Washington officials often claim North Koreans were responsible for. “It really looks like they’ve just tried to build an operating system for them, and give the user a basic set of applications.”
The Red Star features a Korean word processor, a calendar and an app that allows the users to compose and transcribe music. The overall style of the operating system was inspired by Apple Mac, while the programming language was developed based on Russia’s Linux operating system.
All dictatorship countries, including Russia and China, have attempted to build their own computer system, while Cuba has its own National Nova computer system.
North Korea’s nuclear missile can reach the U.S.
North Korea has developed nuclear missiles with improved reliability capable of reaching the West Coast, according to Popular Mechanics. North Korean engineers have extremely improved the KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile, first unveiled at military parades in 2012 and 2013, making its design simpler and boosting its reliability.
However, the improved nuclear missile is still expected to be vulnerable to shots fired from advanced missile defenses.
The KN-08 nuclear missile was initially designed with intercontinental range in mind. The nuclear missile is claimed to have been developed based on the R-27 Zyb, an obsolete Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missile.
The nuclear missile’s projected range is 5,592 miles, which means the missile could reach the United States with a lightweight nuclear weapon. The upgraded nuclear missile, which has not been yet tested, was spotted at a North Korean military parade earlier this year.
Could Kim Jong-un launch untested nuclear missile?
In an attempt to achieve simplicity and more reliability, the North Korean engineers reduced three rocket stages to two. It is expected that the nuclear missile is going to have the reliability ranging in the 50-60 percentage.
The upgraded nuclear missile still has a number of drawbacks, including the fact that the missile has to travel by road on a wheeled vehicle, which is no good for the safety of sensitive equipment.
The KN-08 is liquid-fueled, which means North Koreans need hours to complete the process. Moreover, the missile must be immediately used upon fueling, otherwise the corrosive rocket fuel will eat the missile from inside out. Another drawback is that the upgraded ICBM is still vulnerable to anti-ballistic missile systems such as THAAD and Patriot PAC-3.
And here’s the rub: the North Korean engineers say that most likely the nuclear missile will be tested no sooner than in 2021. Unless, of course, Kim Jong-un decides to launch the ‘undercooked’ version of the nuclear missile to trigger a global disaster.