North Korea’s internet goes dark after apparent cyberattack

23 Dec 2014

North Korea’s sliver of access to the internet was down over a 10-hour period last night in what could have been a US reprisal over alleged attacks on Sony’s computer networks.

In a 21st century version of a shot across the bows, North Korea’s internet began experiencing intermittent problems at the weekend and then went completely dark last night and many believe the US had a hand in the attack.

In recent days, the US labelled as “absurd” North Korea’s calls for a joint investigation into the attacks on Sony and made it clear it believed North Korea was to blame.

At the heart of the saga is a movie called The Interview, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, about a hapless TV duo’s trip to North Korea being hijacked by the CIA with orders to kill the head of state of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.

The plot of the movie no doubt incensed the North Korean government.

At the end of November, workers at Sony Pictures Entertainment began experiencing computer problems before the network went completely down. Within days, five new movies, including Annie and Fury, were leaked onto the internet, along with data on more than 47,000 people and very sensitive emails.


While North Korea said it had nothing to do with the attack by a group called Guardians of Peace, the North Korean government described the attack as a “righteous deed”.

The Interview, which was due to be released on 25 December, was pulled by theatres across the US because of fears for the safety of staff and cinemagoers.

Sony for its part said it will one way or another release the movie, possibly via its streaming service Crackle.

The overnight attack on North Korea that caused the internet outage is less likely to be the cutting of a fibre-optic cable but has the hallmark of a software-based denial of service attack.

It is understood North Korea first noticed problems with the internet as early as Friday before it went dark yesterday evening.

North Korea is one of the least connected locations in the world, with only 1,024 official IP addresses, which are usually reserved for the military and government elite.

Internet blackout image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years