Revenge? North Korea Internet Goes Offline

North Korea’s access to the Internet hit with outages and is offline, days after it was identified as responsible for hacking Sony.

Ben Ariel ,

A man types on a computer keyboard
A man types on a computer keyboard

North Korea’s access to the Internet has been hit with outages and is offline, a network-monitoring company said on Monday, according to Bloomberg news.

North Korea, which has four official networks connecting the country to the Internet - all of which route through China - began experiencing intermittent problems on Sunday and went completely black on Monday, according to Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at Dyn Research in Hanover, New Hampshire.

“The situation now is they are totally offline,” Madory told Bloomberg, adding, “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. It is kind of out of the ordinary. This is not like anything I’ve seen before.”

The outage in North Korea comes three days after the FBI said that Pyongyang was behind a cyber-attack on Sony Pictures, which exposed Hollywood secrets, destroyed data and caused the studio to cancel the release of “The Interview,” a comedy about a fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The hackers rendered thousands of computers inoperable and forced Sony to take its entire computer network offline.

President Barack Obama said last week that Sony Pictures Entertainment had suffered significant damage and vowed to respond, though he told CNN on Sunday that he considered the attack "an act of cybervandalism," not war.

North Korea warned Sunday that any U.S. punishment over the hacking attack on would lead to a retaliation “thousands of times greater.”

The outage probably isn’t a cut of a fiber-optic cable, which would be shown in an immediate loss of connectivity, and other possible explanations include a software meltdown on North Korea’s Web routers or denial-of-service hacking attacks, Madory said.

Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the State Department, told reporters in Washington today she can’t confirm reports of cyber-attacks on North Korea and would not say what steps the U.S. may take in response to the Sony attack.

“We are considering a range of options in response,” Harf said at a State Department briefing, according to Bloomberg. “Some will be seen. Some may not be seen.”

“We have no new information regarding North Korea today,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan wrote in an e-mail Monday. “If in fact North Korea’s Internet has gone down, we’d refer you to that government for comment.”