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North Korea's Version of Linux Spies on Those Who Use It, Researchers Say

It's got the guts of Linux and the look of Mac OS, and it spies on those who use it.

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The beauty of the Linux operating system is that anyone can use it, customizing it to suit their purpose.

And, for North Korea, that purpose is creating an operating system that can be used to spy on the citizenry.

“We found that the features implemented in Red Star OS are the wet dream of a surveillance state dictator,” said Florian Grunow and Niklaus Schiess, two researchers who presented their assessment Sunday of a leaked version of Red Star OS 3, the North Korean Linux distribution. “It provides a set of surveillance features like the capabilities to watermark different types of files that can be used to track the distribution of documents and multimedia files.”

Grunow and Schiess said that the latest version of Red Star has the guts of Linux and the looks of Mac OS mixed in with its spy-on-the-populace features.

The presentation follows up on the initial impressions that Grunow published earlier this year.

North Korea, known for its secrecy, doesn’t get much press when it comes to technology, though it made headlines earlier this year when it was fingered as the likely culprit behind the hacking of Sony Pictures.

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