Facebook Clone Has A Brief Appearance In North Korea
Facebook has a clone in North Korea that briefly appeared before quickly going offline.
The social media site was hosted on the StarCon.net.kp address in North Korea.
The clone had many of the features of other social networks. It is thought to be a test project for a future service to be offered by the nation’s telecoms operator.
The creator of StarCon is not known yet. Doug Madory, a researcher at network management firm Dyn, spotted the site.
Dyn said that the site’s name suggested that it was linked to North Korea’s Star telecom service.
The site was hosted on a North Korean server, rather than a Chinese server as many North Korean websites are.
However, soon after being discovered, the site was hacked and it is now not accessible. The site was hacked a day after being discovered. The site was hacked to re-direct every visitor to a YouTube video.
Soon after being hacked, it went offline completely.
StarCon was built around a commercial software package called phpDolphin. It had many features of other social networks, such as newsfeeds, messaging systems and personal spaces.
However, many of the pages of the new site were still unfinished and were filled with placeholder text.
However, Dyn Madory’s mention of StarCon on its Twitter feed led people to set up personal pages on the site and start using it to swap messages.
One of the first accounts to be set up was a parody account of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Outsiders created about 300 accounts on StarCon during its brief existence in the cyberspace.
“I don’t believe it was intended to be accessible from outside North Korea,” Mr Madory told the BBC.
“There were a lot of people signing up that, based on their comments, appeared to genuinely think they could reach the North Korean people through the website,” he said.
“I’m quite sure that no North Koreans ever really used it for a social network website despite the fact that it was hosted in North Korea.”
There is speculation on social media that the clone site may have been a test for the North Korean state of a social media platform that it wishes to roll out in the future.
A Scottish 18-year old was able to hack the site within hours, because of lax security on the site. The teenager, Andrew McKean, guessed the username and password for the website, as they were the same as the phpDolphin platform: “admin” and “password”.
The isolated Communist country of North Korea has severe restrictions on its population’s Internet freedoms. Access to popular websites in the western world is forbidden. It is believed that only a few thousands North Koreans have worldwide access to the Internet.
North Koreans require government permission to use a computer and when they do get access to a computer, they are met with an intranet that hosts only a few thousands websites.