Updated: December 23, 5:07 GMT – Websites hosted inside North Korea appear to be functioning intermittently, after being offline for approximately nine hours. North Korean websites hosted outside the DPRK were not affected by the outage, indicating that the blackout affected the North Korean internet, but not all of its web assets.
There has yet to be any official comment from Washington or Pyongyang on the blackout.
North Korea’s internet has totally blacked out, after experiencing steadily worsening connectivity outages from Monday.
While North Korea’s internet connection does occasionally suffer from similar problems, the blackout comes just days after President Obama warned of a “proportional response” to the hack on Sony pictures.
“[It] looks like it’s an external attack. It’s quite possibly a DDoS attack, overwhelming North Korean servers with traffic, but it’s difficult to tell from outside,” Martyn Williams, author of the North Korea Tech site, who first covered the story told NK News.
“A long pattern of up-and-down connectivity, followed by a total outage, seems consistent with a fragile network under external attack,” Jim Cowie, Chief Scientist at Dyn Research said in a post on the company’s website.
It’s currently unclear if the U.S. is behind the blackout. North Korea’s connection to the internet is relatively fragile, indicating that it would not take a particularly sophisticated attack to knock the DPRK offline.
“There’s nothing clearly evident which points to U.S. involvement … there has been talk amongst the [non-government-aligned] hacking classes of reprisals,” Frank Feinstein NK News chief technical officer said.
“This sort of thing could be pulled off by a collective or handful of individuals, rather than a state power very easily,” Feinstein added.
U.S. authorities gave a cryptic response to the blackout, with State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf saying that Washington did not “discuss publicly operational details about the possible response options … except to say that as we implement our responses, some will be seen, some may not be seen”.
North Korea’s internet connectivity has been steadily worsening, with the country’s four networks going dark after 24 hours of deteriorating stability. While most North Koreans cannot access the external internet, they do have a local DPRK intranet, though it is unlikely this network has been affected by the blackout.
“I doubt it [has]. As far as I know, it’s a completely different network with no outside connections,” Williams told NK News.
On Friday, the FBI made an official announcement linking the DPRK to devastating hack on U.S. based Sony Pictures. The incident has led to escalating tensions between North Korea and America, with Pyongyang on Sunday threatening to attack the White House and the Pentagon.
Featured image: Leo Byrne
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