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North Korea accidentally leaks top-level DNS data

North Korea has accidentally “leaked” all 28 of its .kp domains, allowing foreigners an unprecedented insight into the government-run websites of the notoriously secretive country.

rt_kim_jong_computer_1_kab_141223_12x5_1600“On Sept 19 2016, at approximately 10:00PM, one of North Korea’s top level nameservers was accidentally configured to allow global DNS zone transfers. This allows anyone who performs an AXFR (zone transfer) request to the country’s ns2.kptc.kp nameserver can get a copy of the nation’s top level DNS data … This data gives us a better picture of North Korea’s domains and top level DNS.” A Github user named “mandatoryprogrammer” who posted the information wrote on the website.

Thanks to the user’s publishing information including links and zone files to Github, foreigners can gain access to the .kp domains as a result of North Korea accidentally allowing the pages to be accessed outside the country.

Among the various news sites revealed in the 28 domains uncovered in the Github post, there is also a Korean tourism board, an air travel website and a seemingly social networking site branded Friend.com.kp. The full list is available on a Github page.

Internet access is available in North Korea, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, but only permitted with special authorization and primarily used for government purposes and by foreigners. The country has some broadband infrastructure, including fiber optic links between major institutions. Unsurprisingly, the North Korean government websites make up a major portion of what North Korean citizens can browse, and this leak has provided us with a look at how its dictatorship, led by leader Kim Jong-un, present themselves to their public.

South Korean police once identified 43 pro-North Korean websites that have foreign-based servers. The police report that these websites encourage hostile attitudes towards South Korea and Western countries, and portray North Korea in a positive light. According to The Dong-a Ilbo, foreign-based websites include the following: Joseon Tongsin (Korean News Service) and Guk-jeonseon in Japan, Unification Arirang in China, Minjok Tongsin in the United States, and twelve new pro-North Korean websites have launched, including the “Korea Network”. In August 2010, BBC News reported that an agency contracted by the North Korean government has fielded an official DPRK YouTube channel, Facebook and Twitter accounts for Uriminzokkiri. Both the Twitter and YouTube accounts are solely in Korean.

Reina Ho

Reina Ho is a freelance reporter who focuses on censorship and information control in online space.

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