N Korea’s Internet goes dark amid escalating Sony hack row: report

US Internet monitoring firm claims total outage, days after Washington pledges response

Tags: Cyber crimeDDoSIncapsula (www.incapsula.com)North KoreaSony CorporationTrend Micro IncorporatedUSA
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N Korea’s Internet goes dark amid escalating Sony hack row: report Kim Jong Un’s government has denied involvement in the attack on Sony Pictures. (Getty Images)
By  Stephen McBride Published  December 23, 2014

A US-based Internet monitoring company yesterday claimed North Korea was struck by a complete Internet blackout, amid an escalating row between Kim Jong Un's government and Washington over last month's cyber-attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The US government blames Pyongyang for the 22 November attack on Sony Pictures by a group calling itself Guardians of Peace, which crippled the studio's corporate network for more than a week and stole dozens of terabytes of data. The fallout from the incident included leaked movies and scripts, and the exposure of sensitive employee data and internal emails. The cost to Sony may have been as high as $100m, according to one analyst's estimate.

After his administration named North Korea as the perpetrator, President Barack Obama pledged a proportional response "in a place and time and manner that we choose".

According to Reuters, New Hampshire-based Dyn reported the outage, saying possible reasons ranged from technical problems to a cyber-attack.

Other cyber security commentators agreed, but also floated the theory that a non-state party could be responsible.

"It would be possible that a patriotic actor could achieve the same results with a botnet, however the president promised a proportional response," said Tom Kellermann, chief cybersecurity officer at Trend Micro.

Other specialists believed that a DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack would be sufficient to disable North Korea's Internet and would not require state-level resources.

"Even if North Korea had 10 times their publicly reported bandwidth, bringing down their connection to the Internet would not be difficult from a resource or technical standpoint," said Ofer Gayer, security researcher at Incapsula, in an emailed statement to ITP.net.

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