Updated Apr 25, 2018

North Korean elites disguise internet usage, mostly to watch videos

A North Korean flag waves in the demilitarized zone. Photo: Seung-il Ryu/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A new report details how North Korean elites use the internet — through a combination of internet cloaking devices and a strategic move from Western social media sites to permissible Chinese ones (avoiding a growing crackdown,) primarily in order to watch videos.

Why it matters: The elite class' internet usage is behind two veils — it is hard to get any detail from North Korea in the first place, let alone about illicit activity. The Recorded Future report fills in some detail about how the "0.1%" live in the hermit nation.

The details: This is the second time Recorded Future has compiled a detailed report on elite internet usage in North Korea. In July, the firm noted that much of the external traffic went to Western social media sites like Facebook, Google and Instagram.

  • But the Kim regime is cracking down on Western internet use. Facebook, Google and Instagram have been almost entirely replaced in the nation by Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu.
  • The new report also saw a spike in obfuscation services to hide internet traffic — a 12-fold increase in services like virtual private networks and Tor to keep prying eyes off of their traffic. That number includes the increased use of the TLS protocol, a common security protocol whose usage is increasing globally but at a much slower rate worldwide.

Go deeper

Sanders requests recount of Iowa recanvass after results show shrunken margin

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Sen. Bernie Sanders said in a statement Tuesday night he will request a recount of the Iowa Democratic Party's recanvass results.

Where it stands: Both Buttigieg and Sanders requested partial recanvasses in Iowa last week after results were delayed and showed several errors following a software malfunction on caucus night.

Axios Dashboard

Keep up with breaking news throughout the day — sign up for our alerts.

Energy deputy secretary nominee faces heat after contradicting Trump

Mark Menezes speaks at a forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, June 12. Photo: Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Trump administration officials are internally raising concerns about President Trump’s nominee for Energy deputy secretary, who appeared to openly contradict the president on nuclear waste storage at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain last week.

Driving the news: While speaking at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing last Wednesday, Mark Menezes told members of the panel that the Trump administration is still interested in storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain and that “what we're trying to do is to put together a process that will give us a path to permanent storage at Yucca."