Metro Weekly

North Korea loses its internet connection

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North Korea, the tantrum-throwing child of the international community, has had its internet privileges revoked.

Okay, that’s perhaps overstating it, but — according to Bloomberg — the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has lost its internet connection for unknown reasons. Following on from the Sony Pictures hacking scandal, for which the FBI directly blamed North Korea’s isolationist government, the four networks through which North Korea connects to the internet have gone dark, according to director of internet analysis at Dyn Research in New Hampshire, Doug Madory.

“The situation now is they are totally offline,” Madory told Bloomberg. “I don’t know that someone is launching a cyber-attack against North Korea, but this isn’t normal for them. Usually they are up solid.”

North Korea connects to the internet by routing just four officially-sanctioned networks through China, the country’s closest ally on the world stage — though China is more of an annoyed parent than willing friend. Problems apparently began yesterday before the country went completely dark today. As for the ease with which someone could take an entire country offline? According to security-software company Invincea Inc., it wouldn’t take much at all.

“There are only a handful of hosts. It’s relatively easy to attack just those hosts or the pipes that are present there,” the company’s chief scientist, Jose Nazario, stated. “There’s not that much bandwidth there. It’s very, very accessible to anyone who wanted to attack them.”

After it emerged that North Korea were the perpetrators of the hacking attack on Sony Pictures, President Obama promised that the government would “respond proportionally.” Obama said that North Korea’s actions were intolerable. “We cannot have a society in which some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States.” As for his government’s response? The President promised “we’ll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose.”

However, before we don our conspiracy hats and start posting on Reddit, the State Department has ruled out any part in North Korea’s loss of internet connection. “If in fact North Korea’s Internet has gone down, we’d refer you to that government for comment,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan told Bloomberg via email.

The State Department confirmed that North Korea’s internet problems are not of the government’s doing. Speaking with reporters, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said that the State Department was still “considering a range of options in response” to North Korea’s hacking of Sony Pictures. She added that “Some will be seen, some may not be seen.”

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Whether North Korea’s outage is the result of a hack is unconfirmed — and it’s unlikely the country’s fiercely image-obsessed government would admit to one — it’s too coincidental that the country should lose one of it’s few connections to the outside world so soon after it was announced that it masterminded the Sony Pictures hack.

“There’s either a benign explanation — their routers are perhaps having a software glitch; that’s possible,” Madory stated. “It also seems possible that somebody can be directing some sort of an attack against them and they’re having trouble staying online.” He also noted that to bring down North Korea’s small network wouldn’t require a government. Teenage hackers are just as capable of bringing their connection to a standstill. Says Madory, “It needn’t be a nation state.”

Image Credit: Marcelo Graciolli / Flickr

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