Over recent weeks All Change Please! has been avidly tuning in to the latest episode of the BBCs ‘True Crime’ podcast on Sounds entitled ‘The Lazarus Heist’.
The early episodes describe the attempt to steal a billion dollars from Sony Pictures in November 2014. During the hack, the group, known as the ‘Guardians of Peace’, demanded that Sony withdraw its then-upcoming film ‘The Interview’, a comedy about a plot to assassinate North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, and threatened terrorist attacks at US cinemas screening the film.
Sony resisted their demands so the hackers released confidential data that included personal information about Sony Pictures employees and their families, emails between employees, information about executive salaries at the company, copies of then-unreleased Sony films, plans for future Sony films, scripts for certain films, and other information. They then managed to erase Sony’s computer infrastructure. The US Investigators blamed North Korea, but Pyongyang has denied involvement.
Later episodes cover the Bangladesh Bank Cyber Heist in February 2016 which has been potentially attributed to the same group of hackers. It’s surprising that these events were not given greater prominence in the newsfeed of the time as they serve to illustrate just how vulnerable our IT systems can be to really able and motivated hackers.
But that’s not what this post is all about!
In Episode 5, ‘Cyber Warriors’ the focus is on what it is apparently like to live and work in North Korea and it provides an alarming account of the level of surveillance and state control that exists there and of the priority they give to developing tools of Cyber warfare.
- Because there is no open internet the North Koreans live in a closed information bubble and therefore have no idea what life is like in the rest of the world. Only a few people are allowed to use mobile phones.
- They are used to and accept that they must simply do what they are told to do by those in power, who cannot be disagreed with under any circumstances.
- There is a constant fear of retribution from the government if people step out of line or dare to question the conditions.
- If they dissent they are almost certainly severely punished, sometimes in public as an example to others. This might include being sent to labour camps.
- People are resigned to monotonous daily lives and simply go through the motions because it is easier than challenging the situation.
- There is rarely laughter on the street or spirited conversation between friends.
- Everyone has to wear exactly the same, identical clothing. There is a nationwide ban on skinny jeans and some body piercings. There is a choice of just 15 different ‘proper’ hair-styles that may be worn.
- New technologies are treated with suspicion through fear of unemployment due to automation.
- Traditional art, singing and dancing are considered to be very important, particularly in education.
- Electricity is only available at certain times of the day.
Now all this got All Change Please! thinking…
Because life in too many typical UK schools essentially works like this:
- Children are not allowed to use mobile phones to interact with real life outside school and use of the internet is often restricted.
- They are used to and accept that they must simply do what they are told to do by those in power, who cannot not be disagreed with under any circumstances.
- There is a constant fear of retribution if children step out of line or dare question the curriculum.
- If they dissent they are almost certainly severely punished, sometimes in front of their classmates as an example to others. This might include being sent to isolation booths.
- Children are resigned to monotonous weekly timetables and simply go through the motions because it is easier than challenging the situation.
- Laughter in the corridors or spirited conversation between friends is often forbidden.
- Everyone has to wear exactly the same, identical uniform. Jeans, body piercings and unconventional hairstyles are banned.
- New technologies are treated with suspicion through fear of teacher unemployment due to automation
- Art, singing and dancing are considered to be of little importance in education.
But at least our schools do have electricity throughout the day.
Power to the Pupils….?
So that’s all good then!
Image credit: Mark Fahey/Wikimedia