Iran and Russia are becoming Internet provider nexuses to other countries. Dyn Research wrote about shifts in 2013 that led states in the Persian Gulf to seek out additional Internet providers.
Sometimes, it takes a real disaster to create something genuinely new. March 2013 was a month of disasters in the Middle Eastern, South Asian, and East African Internet, with major submarine cable cuts affecting SMW3, SMW4, IMEWE, EIG, SEACOM, and TE-North.
One of the “genuinely new” Internet traffic paths that emerged in response is a counterintuitive terrestrial route, linking the ancient Indian Ocean trade empire of Oman with the Internet markets of Western Europe, by way of Iran, Azerbaijan, and the Russian Caucasus. As we’ll see, its effects are now being felt across the region, from Pakistan, to Gulf states like Bahrain and Oman, to Kenya.
More recently, Russia started providing a new Internet link to North Korea. As reported by 38North, Russia Provides New Internet Connection to North Korea:
The connection, from TransTeleCom, began appearing in Internet routing databases at 09:08 UTC on Sunday, or around 17:38 Pyongyang time on Sunday evening.
Before this additional route became available, China was the only provider of Internet access to the country’s sole ISP.
Until now, Internet users in North Korea and those outside accessing North Korean websites were all funneled along the same route connecting North Korean ISP Star JV and the global Internet: A China Unicom link that has been in operation since 2010.
This additional link makes the country’s access to the Internet less precarious and vulnerable to disconnection by attackers.
More than once the link has been the target of denial of service attacks. Most were claimed by the “Anonymous” hacking collective, but on at least one previous occasion, many wondered if US intelligence services had carried out the action.