North Korea's Internet Back Up

Experts believe single hacker could have taken it down
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2014 3:25 AM CST
Updated Dec 23, 2014 7:55 AM CST
North Korea's Internet Back Up
A South Korean student looks at an illustration of the potential for cyberwarfare between North and South.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

After a mysterious outage that analysts believe lasted for around nine hours, Internet service has been at least partially restored for the handful of North Koreans who were allowed to get online in the first place. Experts say they've detected denial-of-service attacks on the country's Internet, but while some suspect it could be US retaliation for the Sony hack, North Korea's network is so small that attacking it would be relatively easy. "To overload the routing infrastructure would probably not require the efforts of a nation-state, it could be just one dedicated person," the chief scientist at Dyn Research tells the BBC. The company says it could have been a simple router problem, although the outage didn't seem to follow that pattern.

Just how small is North Korea's Internet? It has just 1,024 known IP addresses, according to CNN—compared to more than a million times as many in the US—and a defector says use of the Internet is reserved mainly for select government officials and some foreign ambassadors. Researchers have detected a variety of devices hooked up to the Internet in North Korea, including PlayStations, Xboxes, and a solitary MacBook. But while the regime strives to keep ordinary citizens off the wider Internet, they are allowed to access a tightly controlled national intranet called Kwangmyong, which has around 5,000 websites consisting largely of technical information and state propaganda. (Read more North Korea stories.)

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