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North Korea's 3G Experiment Might Be Over

North Korea's 3G Experiment Might Be Over

Today in international tech news: The plug may already have been pulled on North Korea's 3G experiment; a computer attack touched off by a spam-friendly Web host gets out of hand; and the Swedish Language Council is in a huff over a request made by Google.

By David Vranicar
03/27/13 8:39 AM PT

North Korea's Internet liberation has hit a snag -- it's still North Korea.

One month after announcing that it would grant tourists and visitors 3G Internet access, North Korea appears to have revoked its 3G services.

Tourists no longer have 3G access, Koryo Tours, a North Korean tour group, first reported on its website.

There is a chance that the 3G service is merely busted, but given North Korea's history, the consensus at the moment is that the plug has been pulled. Heightened tensions with South Korea in the wake of the North's nuclear test -- a Koryo tour group blogged about the palpable sense of military readiness -- support the notion that this isn't a blip.

Tourists reportedly can still buy SIM cards to make calls over North Korea's 3G network, which is more than capable of handling 3G Internet. However, access to the Web is impossible -- just like the old days.

Coming on the heels of Google chairman Eric Schimidt's visit to the country, North Korea's decision to allow tourists to use its 3G networks was a big deal. In the past, tourists' phones had simply been confiscated upon entering the country.

As for North Korean nationals, they never were granted access to the 3G network.

[Sources: Koryo Group; Wired]

From Humble Beginnings, Computer Attack Becomes Enormous

The dispute began when antispam group Spamhaus placed Dutch Web host CyberBunker on its blacklist. The favor was returned -- and then some -- in what is believed to be one of the largest computer attacks in history.

Spamhaus' blacklist is used by email providers to eradicate spam, and CyberBunker's spam-ridden clientele -- it draws the line only at child pornography and terrorism-related content -- earned it a spot on the list.

The ensuing tiff resulted in distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks targeted at Spamhaus. However, the scale of the attacks screwed up the Internet for millions of users: Netflix users, for instance, were experiencing delays because of the surge of activity taking place over the Web.

The attacks came from a plethora of computers known as "botnets," which send data streams that are larger than whole nations' Internet connections.

Spamhaus has been targeted with DDoS attacks before, knocking it offline, but the scale of the recent attacks is vastly greater.

Such assaults are akin to online nuclear bombs, said Matthew Prince, the chief executive of Cloudfare, the California-based Internet security firm that first reported the attacks.

[Sources: Cloudflare; The New York Times]

Sweden Nixes Word After Google Intervention

The Swedish Language Council removed an entry from its 2012 list of new Swedish words after Google suggested an amendment to the definition.

The council in December had added "ogooglebar," or "ungoogleable" -- something "that you can't find on the Web with the use of a search engine" -- to its annual list of new words.

Google reportedly responded by asking the Council to amend its definition to specify that the word referred specifically to Google searches -- not Internet searches as a whole -- which the Language Council declined to do.

Thus, the Council removed the word from its list -- a first for the Council -- and publicly stated its displeasure with Google.

The Council conceded that it could have compromised with Google but said it chose to remove the word (and then publicize its removal of the word) to spark debate.

[Source: The Local]


David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author of The Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out his ECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.


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