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Digital divideNorth Korea has only has 28 Web sites, mistakenly leaked official data reveals

Published 22 September 2016

Launching an effective cyberwar against North Korea would be difficult because the secretive country has only twenty-eight registered domains. The information about the surprisingly small number of North Korean registered domains was the result of incorrect configuration of one of North Korea’s top-level name servers. The incorrect configuration made the server reveal a list of all the domain names under the domain .kp.

Launching an effective cyberwar against North Korea would be difficult because the secretive country has only twenty-eight registered domains.

Security engineer Matt Bryant made the discovery on Tuesday, and posted the information on GitHub.

His posting said that “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.”

Bryant told Motherboard: “Now we have a complete list of domain names for the country and it’s surprisingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly, very small.”

Gizmodoalso reports that the information about the surprisingly small number of North Korean registered domains was the result of incorrect configuration of one of North Korea’s top-level name servers. The incorrect configuration made the server reveal a list of all the domain names under the domain .kp.

Reddit notes that many of the sites belonged to official agencies such as the committee for cultural relations and the maritime agency. Other domains belong to official state news organizations such as the Pyongyang Broadcasting Service and Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the ruling Workers’ Party.

The leaked list of domains also includes the homepage of the state-owned airline, Air Koryo, and sites specializing in North Korean movies and cuisine.

Martyn Williams, who runs the North Korea Tech blog, said the list contained no significant revelations about the country’s online presence, but that it gave the world a brief and rare glimpse into the few online sources of information approved by the North Korean regime.

She noted that other, potentially more sensitive domains remained off limits to all but a few privileged members of the ruling North Korean elite on the country’s own version of the Internet.

“It’s important to note this isn’t the domain name system for the Internal intranet,” Williams wrote. “That isn’t accessible from the Internet in any way.”