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North Korea suffers internet blackout after Sony hack

world Updated: Dec 24, 2014 01:21 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
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Internet collapsed in North Korea Monday, two days after President Barack Obama vowed a “proportional response” to Sony hacking. But it wasn’t clear if the US was responsible.

The United States will never confirm or deny its role, as it hasn’t in the past. There was speculation the Chinese may have struck, trying to keep their vassal, Kim Jong-un, in line.

The first signs of instability occurred on Friday, and intensified over the next 24 hours as North Korea responded with stock mock anger against US accusations. Pyongyang denied any role in the attack on Sony, suggested a joint probe — rejected outright by the US — and threatened to blow up the White House. All in one rant. North Korea’s net went completely dark Monday morning “after more than 24 hours of sustained weekend instability”, said Dyn Research, a US firm that monitors global connectivity.

“It’s a rare event these days when an entire country leaves the Internet,” said the firm. “Even so, when North Korea’s four networks went dark, we were not entirely surprised.”

But who was behind it?

The US was the obvious suspect, given Obama’s statement.

But state department spokeswoman Marie Harf said, “We aren’t going to discuss, you know, publicly operational details about the possible response options.” “As we implement our responses, some will be seen, some may not be seen.”

Obama has said there will be a “proportional response” to the hacking, but he refused to describe or define it. And the US has yet to own up to a cyber attack that crippled Iran’s nuclear programme. And it will probably never confirm its role in the North Korean blackout if it was involved indeed. But the net meltdown in North Korea was as bad as it may sound for the nation though. Net is available only to a few there and most of the country works offline.

No one knew that better than Jong-un, who may have set up this confrontation fully conscious of his vulnerabilities, yet hopeful of playing them to his strength.