North Korea’s internal computer operating system includes spying tools capable of tracking documents offline, the first in-depth analysis has revealed.
Red Star OS was designed to superficially mimic Apple’s OS X, but hidden features allow it to watermark files and tie them to an individual.
The tools were discovered by two German researchers who conducted the analysis over the past month.
The presented their findings at the Chaos Communication Congress on December 27.
Florian Grunow and Niklaus Schiess pored over the code of Red Star OS version 3.0, which first surfaced online about a year ago.
Any files uploaded to computer via a USB stick or other storage device can be watermarked by the system, allowing the state to trace the journey of that file from machine to machine. Red Star can also identify undesirable files and delete them without permission.
The watermarking function was designed in response to the proliferation of foreign films and music being shared offline.
The system will imprint files with its individual serial number, although it is not known how easily the state can link those serial numbers to individual users.
One element puzzling Florian Grunow is the discovery of an extended version of the watermarking software which he and Niklaus Schiess do not fully understand, but which he says may help identify individual users.
Red Star also makes it nearly impossible for users to modify the system. Attempts to disable its antivirus software or internet firewall will prompt the system to reboot.
The idea for an internal operating system was first conceived by Kim Jong-il, according to Florian Grunow.
As with many things about the world’s most insular state, the extent to which Red Star is used in North Korea is not known. It is likely installed in libraries and other public buildings, says Florian Grunow, where operating systems are installed by the state.
Red Star was built using Linux, a free and open-source platform which can be modified at will, and was designed that way to make it as accessible as possible.
More ironic still is the name of the file used by Red Star to hunt for suspicious files on the machine.
Windows 10 is being launched globally on July 29 in Microsoft’s attempt to reverse its fortunes in the mobile industry.
Windows 10 will be offered as a free upgrade to most existing Windows users, as well as those buying new PCs.
Analysts say the company is beginning to move away from relying on Windows as a key money-making product.
Microsoft has until now released a new version of Windows every few years.
Windows 10 will be the last launch of this kind, the company said – from here on it will gradually update the software for free over months and years. For those of you who aren’t so ‘tech savvy’, there are companies such as 1E who can help businesses with the upgrade, and overall process.
The developer version of Hololens, which is placed over a user’s eyes and displays graphics in their surroundings, is on course to be released within a year, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said.
Consumer versions of the software would follow at a later date.
While the company is still to make a small number of mobile devices – a couple of smartphones, and its Surface tablet-laptop hybrid – it has significantly lowered its ambitions in the area.
Earlier this month, Microsoft wrote off last year’s $7.5 billion acquisition of Finnish mobile giant Nokia, while laying off thousands of the employees it gained from the phone company.
The write down resulted in the company’s biggest ever quarterly loss.
The deal was made by Satya Nadella’s predecessor, Steve Ballmer.
Windows 10 is multi-platform – meaning essentially the same software can power PCs, smartphones, tablets, games consoles and wearables.
The previous version of the operating system – Windows 8 – was so badly received the company leapfrogged making Windows 9 altogether in an attempt to distance itself from its previous outlook.
In the run up to launching Windows 10, Microsoft launched its Insider Program – a scheme which allowed millions of users to test out new features and provide feedback which was monitored and acted upon by the team.
Initial reviews of the software have been positive.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.