Russia just helped North Korea harden its nuclear arsenal

Without sharing weapons, nuclear secrets, or any military assets, Russia likely just handed North Korea a meaningful safeguard for its burgeoning nuclear arsenal by hooking the country up with internet.

Russia’s TransTeleCom started routing data from North Korea on Sunday evening, according to 38 North, a website dedicated to expert analysis of North Korea.

“The addition of Russian transit would create new internet path out of the country, increasing its resilience and international bandwidth capacity,” Doug Madory, a global internet-connectivity analyst at Dyn Research, told 38 North.

But the timing of the move raises serious questions, as The Washington Post reported at the end of September that US Cyber Command had been attacking North Korea’s networks in a President Donald Trump-directed campaign that just happened to end on Sunday.

Now, with a new hard line to another network, North Korea’s cyber infrastructure has a whole new added layer of resiliency.

In April of this year, when The New York Times ran a story about the US supposedly hacking North Korea’s missile infrastructure to cause its launches to fail, Business Insider spoke to Ken Geers, a cybersecurity expert for Comodo with experience in the NSA.

“If you think that war is possible with a given state, you’re going to be trying to prepare the battle space for conflict. In the internet age, that means hacking,” said Geers.

Because of the limited number of servers and access points to North Korea’s very restricted internet, “If it ever came to cyberwar between the US and North Korea, it would be an overwhelming victory for the West,” said Geers.

But with Russia’s support for North Korea’s network, the US’s job in shutting down North Korea’s cyber activities, including possibly its nuclear command and control, becomes much more difficult.

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