For the most part In the world, the common practice of “rooting” or “jailbreaking” a phone allows the device owner to install apps and software tweaks that violate the limitations of Apple or Google’s operating system. For a growing number of North Koreans, on the other hand, similar hacking allows them to step out of a more comprehensive system of control চায় one that seeks to expand every aspect of their lives and minds.
On Wednesday, North Korea-based human rights group Lumen and Martin Williams, researchers at the 38 North Korea-based North Project project at the Stemson Center think tank, released a report on the state of smartphones and telecommunications in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. , A country that more strictly restricts its citizens’ access to information and the Internet than any other country in the world. The report details how millions of government-approved, Android-based smartphones are now entering North Korean society, although digital restrictions prevent their users from downloading an app or even a file that is not approved by the state. But in that reign of digital repression, the report also hints at an unlikely new group: North Korean jailbreakers capable of hacking smartphones are able to secretly regain control and unlock a world of banned foreign content.
“There has been a constant battle between the North Korean government and its citizens over the use of technology: every time a new technology is introduced, people usually find ways to use it for some illegal purpose – but it doesn’t happen. “Williams said. “Given the future of free information in North Korea, it shows that people are still willing to try to break government control.”
Learning something about the details of subversive activity in North Korea — digitally or otherwise — is notoriously difficult, due to the almost airtight information control of the Hermit Kingdom. Lumen’s inquiries into North Korea’s jailbreaking are based on interviews with just two defectors from the country. But Williams said the two fugitives both independently described the hacking of their phones and the phones of other North Koreans, largely supporting each other. Other North Korean-centric researchers who interviewed the defectors have heard similar stories.
In an interview with Lumen and Williams, both jailbreakers said they hacked their phones — government-approved, Chinese-made, midrange Android phones known as Pyongyang 2423 and 2413 — primarily to allow them to use devices to watch foreign media and install apps that were. No. Not approved by the government. Their hacking was designed to disrupt an official version of Android on those phones, which for years included a certification system that required any file downloaded to the device to be “signed” by a government authority with a cryptographic signature, otherwise It is removed immediately and automatically. Both jailbreakers say they were able to remove that certificate authentication scheme from the phone, allowing them to install banned apps, such as games, as well as foreign media such as South Korean films, TV shows and ebooks that North Koreans have wanted to access for decades. Despite strict government sanctions.
In another Orwellian measure, Pyongyang’s government-built operating system takes screenshots of the device at random intervals, two detectors say – a surveillance feature designed to create the impression that the user is always being monitored. The images in these screenshots are kept in an inaccessible part of the phone’s storage, where they cannot be viewed or deleted. They say the phone jailbreak allowed the two fugitives to access and delete those surveillance screenshots.