North Korea has found a new internet service provider, and it may be giving the country’s cyber capabilities a boost.
Russian state-owned telecommunications company TransTeleCom began routing North Korean traffic Sunday, according to Dyn Research, Reuters reports. North Korea’s internet traffic was previously handled by China Unicom, but now the country has two sources.
The connection was first detected by Martyn Williams, a researcher with the North Korea monitoring project 38 North.
Internet use is limited in North Korea, but it plays an important role in the country’s offensive cyberattacks. Improved connectivity will enhance the rogue regime’s ability to command cyberattacks against other countries. Russian assistance also strengthens the country’s networks against foreign attacks on North Korean systems, according to cybersecurity experts.
“This will improve the resiliency of their network and increase their ability to conduct command and control over those activities,” Bryce Boland, cybersecurity expert with FireEye, explained to reporters.
U.S. Cyber Command, operating on a direct order from President Donald Trump, reportedly launched a cyber campaign against North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau, the regime’s espionage arm, The Washington Post reported over the weekend. The U.S. military has been launching denial-of-service attacks to shut down North Korea’s internet.
“The addition of Russian transit would create new internet path out of the country, increasing its resilience,” Doug Madory, who analyzes global Internet connectivity at Dyn Research, told 38 North.
North Korea is believed to be behind a number of high-profile cyberattacks, from the Sony Pictures hack to the theft of millions of dollars from a major bank to WannaCry to breaches at the South Korean Ministry of National Defense. North Korea is suspected to have thousands of cyberwarriors. “While I would not characterize them [North Korean hackers] as the best in the world, they are among the best in the world and the best organized,” Gen. Vincent Brooks, head of U.S. Forces Korea, revealed to Congress last year, according to Business Insider.
A major problem with North Korea’s new internet connection is that a U.S. cyberattack on North Korea’s internet could be considered an attack on Russia’s internet infrastructure, Boland revealed to CNN.