North Korea's Internet goes down in possible revenge for Sony hacking scandal

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North Korea's Internet goes down in possible revenge for Sony hacking scandal
Kim Jong Un flashes his computer skills for gathered North Korean officials. (KCNA/Reuters/Corbis)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - DECEMBER 17: South Korean conservative protesters burn an effigy of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un during an anti-North Korea protest marking the second anniversary of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's death on December 17, 2013 in Seoul, South Korea. The tension is heightened in South Korea since the report that North Korea has executed Jang Song-Thaek, Kim Jong Un's uncle on December 13, 2013. On December 17, 2013 North Korea also commemorates two years since the death of former leader Kim Jong-il. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - DECEMBER 17: South Korean conservative protesters shout slogans during an anti-North Korea protest marking the second anniversary of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's death on December 17, 2013 in Seoul, South Korea. The tension is heightened in South Korea since the report that North Korea has executed Jang Song-Thaek, Kim Jong Un's uncle on December 13, 2013. On December 17, 2013 North Korea also commemorates two years since the death of former leader Kim Jong-il. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
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By RYAN GORMAN

North Korea's Internet –- yes, the country does have web access –- appears to be under a major attack despite many experts doubting the regime's involvement in the Sony Pictures hacking scandal.

The hermit kingdom's usually spotty Internet access is currently experiencing more issues than usual, according to the blog North Korea Tech. This includes all websites hosted inside the country.

The communist country's connection to the outside world is failing and websites hosted within its borders keep going down, according to cyber security firm Dyn Research, which runs the blog.

"I haven't seen such a steady beat of routing instability and outages in KP before," Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at Dyn Research, wrote in the post.

"Usually there are isolated blips, not continuous connectivity problems. I wouldn't be surprised if they are absorbing some sort of attack presently."

The cyberassault comes only days after President Barack Obama promised a "proportional response" following the FBI's report detailing the North's involvement in hack, which forced Sony to cancel the release of "The Interview."

Modory told the New York Times that the series of events is consistent with a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on their routers.

"Their networks are under duress," he told the paper.

The reclusive regime's Internet presence is scarce, numbering just over 1,000 known IP addresses, according to the Times. By comparison, the U.S. has billions.

Kim Jong Un's starving, oppressed masses are unlikely to even know what the Internet is, let alone be affected by an outage.

The country's nascent web surfing is done mostly by government officials, state-run media and assumed armies of hackers.

Matthew Prince, founder of San Francisco-based web security firm CloudFlare, told the Times that North Korea's Internet is "toast," adding that it has simply "gone away."

The surprising development comes as many experts have called into question the North's involvement in the infiltration of Sony Pictures.

Marc Rodgers, also of CloudFlare, argued on his blog that he believes any North Korean involvement is highly unlikely.

Rodgers' doubt is fueled by nuances in the Korean language unique to the North Korean dialect but not found in any written communications from the hackers, the group's knowledge of Sony's internal systems and the fact that the saboteurs only latched on to "The Interview" after reports North Korea was involved.

"Blaming North Korea is the easy way out for a number of folks, including the security vendors and Sony management," wrote Rodgers. "It probably also suits a number of political agendas."

The Pentagon has not publicly acknowledged the North Korean Internet outage and would likely not admit any possible involvement in such an operation.

U.S. May Put North Korea Back on List of State Sponsors of Terrorism

Related links:
North Korea threatens attack on White House as US mulls returning country to terror sponsor list
Obama on Sony: 'They made a mistake' canceling 'The Interview' showings

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