North Korea’s Internet said to go dark after cyberattack claims


North Korea’s Internet connection has been touch and go over the last day and now it’s completely shuttered, according to Internet performance analysis firm Dyn Research.

“After 24hrs of increasing instability, North Korean national Internet has been down hard for more than 2hrs,” the firm tweeted on Monday. Normally, the country’s connection to the Internet is considered stable.

The reason for the outage is unclear. It could be that the government took its networks offline for maintenance problems or a cyberattack. The timing of the outage raises questions, however, because the US government is blaming North Korea for a massive hack on Sony Pictures that was revealed in late November. President Barack Obama vowed last week to take appropriate action against Pyongyang for the hack.

“We are considering a range of options in response,” US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters at a briefing on Monday. “We aren’t going to discuss publicly operational details about the possible response options or comment on those kind of reports in any way except to say that as we implement our responses, some will be seen, some may not be seen.”

Dyn Research’s director of Internet analysis Doug Madory said such an Internet outage in North Korea is unusual, according to Bloomberg.

”I don’t know that someone is launching a cyberattack against North Korea, but this isn’t normal for them,” Madory told Bloomberg. “Usually they are up solid. It is kind of out of the ordinary. This is not like anything I’ve seen before.”

This is the latest twist of an ongoing saga around a Sony Pictures movie called “The Interview.” The satirical film, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, had been planned for release on Christmas, featuring an assassination plot against North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The country released a statement earlier this year denouncing the film, but Sony continued with its plans.

In late November, hackers claiming to support North Korea stole thousands of documents from Sony’s computer systems and began releasing them on the Internet. They then threatened terrorist attacks on any theater showing the film. Sony eventually bowed to pressure, canceling the movie’s release. The studio has since backtracked slightly, saying it’s considering other ways to release the film.

In the mean time, US government officials claim the Sony hack is linked to North Korea but have offered few details. The FBI announced last week it had evidence that North Korea was responsible but it wasn’t releasing any information in order to “protect sensitive sources and methods.” North Korea has denied any involvement in the cyberattack, though it praised the hackers.