Newspaper article International New York Times

Internet Is Offline for North Koreans ; System Shutdown Follows Obama's Warning of a 'Proportional Response'

Newspaper article International New York Times

Internet Is Offline for North Koreans ; System Shutdown Follows Obama's Warning of a 'Proportional Response'

Article excerpt

The loss of service came just days after President Obama pledged that the United States would launch a "proportional response" to the recent attacks on Sony Pictures.

North Korea's tenuous links to the Internet went completely dark on Monday after days of instability in what Internet monitors described as one of the country's worst network collapses in years.

The blackout came just days after President Obama pledged that the United States would launch a "proportional response" to recent attacks on Sony, which government officials have attributed to North Korea.

Doug Madory, the director of Internet analysis at Dyn Research, an Internet performance management company, said North Korean Internet access first became unstable late Friday. The situation worsened over the weekend and by Monday, North Korea's Internet was completely offline.

"Their networks are under duress," Mr. Madory said. "This is consistent with a DDoS attack on their routers," he said, referring to a so-called distributed denial of service attack in which attackers flood a network with traffic until it collapses under the load.

North Korea does very little commercial or government business over the Internet. The country officially has 1,024 Internet protocol addresses, though the actual number may be somewhat higher. By comparison, the United States has billions of addresses.

North Korea's addresses are managed by Star Joint Venture, North Korea's state-run Internet provider, which routes many of those connections through China Unicom, China's state-owned telecommunications company.

By Monday morning, those addresses had gone dark for nearly an hour.

CloudFlare, an Internet company based in San Francisco, confirmed on Monday that North Korea's Internet access was "toast." A huge number of connections had been withdrawn, "showing that the North Korean network has gone away," Matthew Prince, CloudFlare's founder, wrote in an email.

Although Monday's Internet blackout might have been caused by maintenance problems, Mr. Madory and others said such problems would not have caused such a prolonged, widespread shutdown. …

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