North Korea experienced severe internet outages on Monday and went completely dark for hours after days of instability.
Internet experts described the incident as one of the worst North Korean network failures in years.
It came just days after President Obama pledged that the United States will launch a “proportional response” to the recent attacks on Sony Pictures which government officials have linked to North Korea.
A cyber attack on North Korea’s networks was suspected but there was no definitive evidence of it, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
Doug Madory, 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,” Madory said.
“This is consistent with a DDoS attack on their routers,” he said, referring to a 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, although 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, the 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 over an hour.
CloudFlare, an Internet company based in San Francisco, confirmed Monday that North Korea’s internet access was “toast”.
A large number of connections had been withdrawn, “showing that the North Korean network has gone away”, Matthew Prince, CloudFlare’s founder, wrote in an e-mail.
Although the failure might have been caused by maintenance problems, Madory and others said that such problems most likely would not have caused such a prolonged, widespread loss.
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