I’m always paying attention to web security and stopping hackers from across the world from penetrating our system. This is just another reason you need to keep you hosting secure and have a good hosting provider. Even Craigstlist got hacked, even more important.
After a nine-hour outage on Tuesday morning, Internet access in North Korea is still intermittent, with reports of poor performance throughout the country. While Internet problems wouldn’t normally make global headlines, the recent troubles between North Korea and Sony Pictures have many wondering if the country’s technology problems are somehow connected.
According to Dyn Research, a company that monitors Internet performance around the globe, the country occasionally experiences glitches, but a nine-hour outage is highly unusual. A spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry has denied preliminary reports that China was responsible for the issues. The Internet’s sole route into North Korea is through China and in recent months, there has been alleged dissention between the neighboring areas.
The Sony Connection
Recently President Obama cautioned against a “proportional response” to North Korea’s recent actions, which include threats of attacks against the U.S.’s, “citadels.” The country seems to believe that government officials were involved in the making of Sony’s movie, “The Interview,” whose plot revolves around the requested assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. North Korean officials say they have evidence that the White House was directly involved in the plot for the film, calling America, “the cesspool of terrorism.”
At first, in response to North Korea’s threats, Sony pulled the picture, then planned to release it on its website for free. (The film was pulled from theaters after hackers claiming to work for North Korea threatened attacks against locations showing the film.) President Obama expressed his disagreement with the decision, saying he doesn’t believe another country should have the power to censor American media. (Now, many U.S. theatre’s have determined they will release the movie as planned, Christmas Day.)
North Korea’s Internet
The Internet issues likely have gone largely unnoticed in the country, which heavily censors access for its residents. While many North Koreans have smartphones, outside Internet access is completely blocked. Instead, citizens have access to a North Korean Internet, which disseminates information approved by authorities.
This government involvement in Internet access perhaps makes an Internet outage an even more profound message to the country. The main official news outlets in the country were down during the outage, keeping North Korean residents from reading content that mostly consists of articles praising the leader and his family.
Evidence of Attacks
While news media outlets have rushed to question American involvement in the attacks, however, there may be evidence pointing in another direction. Denial-of-service attacks against North Korea’s infrastructure reportedly began Thursday, which was a full day before the FBI confirmed North Korea’s involvement in the attack on Sony’s servers. The pattern of the attacks also suggests a smaller group with more limited capabilities. (Experts believe a government-launched Internet attack would be complete in only seconds, rather than developing slowly over a series of days.)
Several online groups are already taking responsibility for the attack, including an online group called Lizard Squad. Interestingly, that same group targeted Sony in an August attack that crashed the company’s network. Another group of hackers claiming to be with the group, Anonymous, have also claimed responsibility for the attack on North Korea’s Internet using the hashtag #OpRIPNK. Anonymous has previously expressed its disapproval over Sony’s original decision to pull the film.
Whoever holds ultimate responsibility for the attacks, North Korea will likely be interested in placing blame somewhere. However, some experts are musing that this may be the new way countries go to war—via the Internet rather than through weapons. After all, a country’s technology infrastructure has become the way its citizens communicate, conduct business, and, in North Korea’s case, control the information disseminated to residents. It’s important that governments protect these infrastructures from a wide range of attack types, just as they protect air and ground space.