MSI-ASIA — A week after mobile Internet users in North Korea began seeing messages telling them the site was blocked, access has been restored, the Associated Press reported on Thursday. The block was an unusual one for the country, but then nothing about the Internet is normal in North Korea.
MSI ASIA — Days after photos leaked of a fire at one of North Korea’s biggest and best-known hotels, the country has begun restricting access to Instagram. On Monday, attempts to connect to Instagram’s website via PC or smartphone were met with a message saying the site was on an Internet block list, according to an Associated Press reporter in Pyongyang.
The US reportedly tried and failed to hack North Korea’s nuclear weapon program five years ago by deploying a version of the Stuxnet computer virus, according to people familiar with the covert operation. The campaign began in tandem with the now-famous Stuxnet attack that sabotaged Iran’s nuclear program in 2009 and 2010 by destroying a thousand or more centrifuges that were enriching uranium. Reuters and others have reported that the Iran attack was a joint effort by US and Israeli forces.
FBI Director James Comey said on Wednesday that hackers behind the cyberattack on Sony Pictures provided key clues to their identity by sometimes posting material from IP addresses used exclusively by the North Korean government. The hackers, who called themselves ‘Guardians of Peace’ sometimes “got sloppy” and failed to use proxy servers that would hide their identity, Comey said at the International Conference on Cyber Security in New York.
North Korea has boosted the numbers of its ‘cyber army’ to 6,000 troops according to a report yesterday from the South Korean Defense Ministry. The new figure was disclosed in a ministry white paper and represents double Seoul’s estimate for the force in 2013. The report comes after the United States, South Korea’s key ally, imposed new sanctions on North Korea for a cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment. Pyongyang has denied involvement in the attack.
U.S. President Barack Obama has authorized new economic sanctions against North Korea, in part for the country’s alleged hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment in November, the White House said. Even though some security researchers have questioned whether North Korea was behind the Sony hack, the White House and the U.S. Department of the Treasury on Friday announced sanctions against 10 North Koreans and three organizations in the country.
The simplest explanation for North Korea’s suddenly dropping off the Internet was a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that overwhelmed the isolated nation’s tenuous connection to the rest of the world, experts said Monday. North Korea’s Internet connection went down around 11 a.m. ET on 22 December 2014, and was restored about nine and a half hours later, at approximately 8:45 p.m. ET. But within hours, some sites checked by Computerworld, including North Korea’s official news agency, were again offline.
North Korea is reportedly suffering Internet and mobile phone service outages Saturday, as the country lashes out against the U.S. government and President Barack Obama. Late Saturday local time, Internet access faltered for the few North Koreans who can go online, and the country’s 3G mobile network also malfunctioned, according to multiple reports citing Chinese news agency Xinhua.
Fresh Internet outages continued to plague North Korea on Tuesday, and speculation about the cause of the rogue country’s systemwide crash earlier in the day broadened to include a hacking group that hinted it was responsible. North Korea’s Internet connection went down about 2 a.m. Tuesday and wasn’t restored for more than 9 1/2 hours, prompting speculation that the U.S. government might have waged a cyberattack against Pyongyang in retaliation for the Nov. 24 hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
A North Korean diplomat has denied Pyongyang was behind a crippling cyber attack on Sony Pictures, which is about to release a comic movie about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The New York-based diplomat, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Voice of America broadcast network on Wednesday that linking North Korea to the hacking of Sony Pictures’ computers was “another fabrication targeting the country”.
North Korean authorities have reportedly blocked access to Facebook and Twitter for the few people in the country with open Internet access. The move came into effect earlier this week, according to a report by the Russian ITAR-TASS news agency, which is one of the few foreign news services to maintain a bureau in the country. Most North Koreans don’t have access to a computer, and those who do are restricted to a nationwide intranet.
Remember in August last year when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un toured a factory that claimed to be producing the nation’s first ever homegrown smartphone? At that time, we were suspicious about the ill-equipped facility and speculated that the North Korean workers were simply boxing up an imported, no-name Chinese phone. And it turns out that’s exactly what’s happening.
Years after Ellen Feiss hit the airwaves and charmed slack-eyed college students into purchasing MacBooks, North Korean programmers have finally made the switch. According to North Korea Tech, Red Star, North Korea’s homegrown, Linux-based operating system – yes, you read that correctly – has received a makeover as part of a version 3 update. The revamped interface ditches what was originally a Windows 7-inspired look, in exchange for an unmistakably OS X-esque appearance.