North Korea has a new internet connection.
The Johns Hopkins North Korea monitoring project, 38 North, and other cybersecurity experts confirmed that as of Sunday night, the Russian telecommunications company TransTeleCom began providing a second internet connection to the country, supplementing one provided by China.
The new connection comes at a time when the United States’ relations with both Russia and North Korea are under strain. U.S. officials have also pressured a reluctant China to join the effort to isolate North Korea in response to the country’s recent nuclear tests and threats.
On Friday, the Washington Post reported that the Trump administration had carried out cyber attacks intended to reduce internet access to North Korea. The new Russian link will make the North Korean system more resilient in the face of attacks like the ones reported.
While internet access is not widespread in North Korea, it is important to the functioning of government and universities. The country has also been linked to a string of high-profile hacking attacks, the victims of which have included a bank, a cybersecurity firm, and Sony, which in 2014 pulled a film in response to an attack.
One cybersecurity expert speculated that the internet connection could help Russia win favor from the North Korean government and could allow for the interpretation of U.S. intervention in North Korea as an aggression against Russia.