The New York Times reported that North Korea's Internet became "unstable" on Friday and progressively grew worse over the weekend. By the time Monday came, North Korea was completely off the Internet grid. Now there is speculation that this downtime is a direct result of a DDoS attack on North Korea's routers. By whom? Currently, that's unknown.
However, news of the North Korean downtime followed what President Barack Obama said on Friday that the United States will respond to the attack on Sony Pictures that took place last week. "We will respond proportionally, and we will respond in a place and time and manner that we choose," he said during a televised press conference.
Obama's comments arrived after the FBI said that it had sufficient evidence that links North Korea to the Sony Pictures hack. More specifically, the malware used in the attack is similar to other malware that North Korea has utilized in the past. The tools used in the attack are also similar to what North Korea used against South Korea back in March 2013.
Despite the evidence revealed to the public, North Korea says (by way of KCNA) that it's not responsible for the Sony Pictures hack and that it has nothing to do with the Guardians of Peace group. The Pyongyang government even issued a lengthy statement on Sunday stating that hacking attacks share similarities period. The North Korean opinion is presumably based on what the FBI revealed publicly and not from the information the government has withheld.
"The army and people of the DPRK are fully ready to stand in confrontation with the U.S. in all war spaces including cyber warfare space to blow up those citadels," the North Korean statement read. The country also seems to side with the Guardians of Peace, calling the group "fighters for justice" while it labelled the United States the "kingpin of injustice."
"The DPRK has already launched the toughest counteraction," the message continues. "Nothing is more serious miscalculation than guessing that just a single movie production company is the target of this counteraction. Our target is all the citadels of the U.S. imperialists who earned the bitterest grudge of all Koreans."
Are we now at virtual war with North Korea? Or is North Korea merely facing maintenance problems? The downtime doesn't seem to be a coincidence, but there could be a rational explanation behind North Korea's disappearance on the Internet. According to the New York Times, the country only has 1,024 Internet protocol addresses whereas the United States has "billions."
Unfortunately, there's a good chance the United States will never acknowledge a cyber attack on North Korea. The New York Times added that an attack on a country's Internet addresses would be a rare move by the U.S., which typically seeks out communications of suspected terrorists and information about another country's defense system.
Currently, experts are having a hard time pinpointing the source of North Korea's Internet problem thanks to its small footprint on the World Wide Web. What they see is that North Korea's networks are "under duress," and that this is the first time the country has disappeared from the Internet.