TransTeleCom a state-owned business in Russia has provided North Korea with a new Internet connection according to the monitoring project of the country known as 38 North.
Experts in cybersecurity also confirmed the latest Russian link.
This move has strengthened the cybersecurity capabilities of North Korea during a time of increased tensions with the United States and also lowers the reliance it has on China.
Before this new link, internet traffic in North Korea was funneled into just one link that the China Unicom a telecommunications company from China provided, according to telecom experts.
However, it has more backup with Russia’s help. That is quite significant during a time when pressure is being ratcheted up by the U.S. on companies in China to cut ties with North Korea due to its nuclear and missile tests.
The new link means that two companies would need to sever business ties in order to cut North Korea off, said a person who operates the site North Korea Tech.
TransTeleCom’s new connection also helps to boost the strength of North Korea’s cybersecurity.
Through increasing the amount of connections to internet, both entering and leaving the country, it also increases resilience to cyberattacks, said FireEye cybersecurity expert Bryce Boland.
The news of the support by Russia comes after a report in the Washington Post that said Cyber Command in the U.S. carried out a new operation that attacked hackers who were affiliated with the military spy agency in North Korea, this past weekend.
It is believed by experts in cybersecurity that North Korea was behind many of the attacks of high-profile including the one on Sony Pictures as well as different banks.
With Russia now involved in Internet in North Korea, things might become more complicated. Attacks against computer servers or hackers in North Korea could now go through the internet infrastructure of Russia.
An attack by the U.S. on North Korea might be looked upon as a provocative move against the Russians, said a cybersecurity official and that might possibly escalate the tensions between Washington and Moscow.
TransTelCom’s owner is a railway company that is run by the Russia government and has fiber optic cables following all the main railroad lines of the country, including right up to the border with North Korea.
Through providing internet connections for the North Korea regime of Kim Jung Un, Russia has gained additional influence over the Pyongyang government and the ability to look at its internet traffic, making it a win-win situation for Russia said an online security expert.