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Exploring North Korea with Dyn Internet Intelligence

As @DynResearch tracked the North Korean Internet problems over the weekend, many people have been writing to ask about the tools and the data sets that support this kind of analysis. I thought we might take a moment to show how the North Korean part of the Internet looks within one of our newest performance tools, Dyn Internet Intelligence (DII).

Let’s start by opening DII and typing the name of a popular North Korean website into the search box at the upper right. The domain showcases North Korean food and culture, and it’s hosted inside the blocks of IP addresses that were affected by Monday’s outage. DII resolves this domain name to the IP addresses inside North Korea, offers a view of their routing, and geolocates them on a map. In this case, they’re in Pyongyang.

Dyn Internet Intelligence Map

If we click to see their network connectivity, we see an updated version of the plot that Dyn Research showed in their Monday outage blog.   Here you can see the single-provider connectivity chain that connects North Korea to the global Internet through China Unicom (CNCGroup was purchased by China Unicom in 2008) and then through Sprint in the USA.


Next we can launch a set of real-time measurements to a North Korean IP address from all around the world, in order to analyze how their address space is connected to the Internet at the level of individual routers.

DII North Korea

The round starburst display on the right hand side summarizes all the paths from Dyn’s global sensor grid into North Korea at the current moment. Each sector in the plot represents a single router, and they’re colored according to which Internet Service Provider operates them.

In the very center we can see a purple dot, designating our North Korean destination IP address. Then we can work our way out to the light blue ring (a China Unicom router), and then the nearly complete orange ring (a Sprint router in the United States). Most of the world’s traffic that’s bound for North Korea will transit this Sprint router, before being handed off to China Unicom. The narrow wedge of other routers at upper left represents the paths from inside China and Mongolia into North Korea — obviously, these don’t go back to California, but go directly through China Unicom into Pyongyang.


If we hover over the key Sprint router, we can identify its IP address and location.  This ‘key router analysis’ showcases one of the core strengths of Dyn Internet Intelligence: the ability to measure how much upstream transit diversity you really have in your extended network. If all the traffic in the world needs to squeeze through a single router to get to you, that router is a single point of failure, congestion and vulnerability. A diagram like this is a clear signal that you need to add some additional paths into your network, if you want to avoid extended outages when critical routers breaks down, inside or outside your network. Dyn Internet Intelligence can expose potential problems like these with a single search.

Dyn Internet Intelligence

Next, we can use DII to look at the time it takes Internet traffic to flow to North Korea and back again, from all over the planet. Network latencies to North Korea are somewhat lower in China, in Mongolia, and on the west coast of the United States, where you can see orange dots indicating round trip times from 150-250ms.  Everywhere else on Earth, it takes more than 300ms (red dots) to talk to Pyongyang. This display really gives you a sense for the isolation and fragility of North Korea’s paths to the global Internet.

DII users who happened to be monitoring North Korean address space would have seen a summary of the country’s connectivity issues in their custom-defined portfolio, as shown next.


And all of the pertinent details are provided via a drill down for any network of interest.


In summary: there’s no magic to Internet measurement.  With a globally diversified sensor network, good tools and detailed analysis, we can all explore the pathways and problems that Internet traffic encounters as it flows from place to place.  Dyn Internet Intelligence puts some really sophisticated Internet infrastructure mapping, measurement, and monitoring technology in the hands of decision makers and IT professionals, and it’s available worldwide by subscription today.  If your business depends on the smooth functioning of the global Internet, get in touch with our sales team and try it for yourself.  []

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Whois: Mikel Steadman

Mikel Steadman was the Director of Sales and Solutions Engineering at Oracle Dyn, a pioneer in managed DNS and a leader in cloud-based infrastructure that connects users with digital content and experiences across a global internet.

To current Dyn Customers and visitors considering our Dynamic DNS product: Oracle acquired Dyn and its subsidiaries in November 2016. After June 29th, 2020, visitors to will be redirected here where you can still access your current Dyn service and purchase or start a trial of Dynamic DNS. Support for your service will continue to be available at its current site here. Sincerely, Oracle Dyn