North Korea’s December Internet blackout was in retaliation for the Sony hack, admits US cybersecurity official
The US has admitted that December’s Internet blackout in North Korea was in revenge for that country’s earlier devastating hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
The mysterious web outage in North Korea lasted for approximately ten hours on December 21 and 22. After that, North Korea warned of strikes against the White House, the Pentagon and the US mainland.
The North Korea Web blackout was significant, as the outage took place just days after that country was blamed by President Obama as being behind the attack. His administration vowed that it would “respond proportionately.”
Despite doubts from some security experts, the director of the FBI was very confident North Korea was behind the hack as the hackers had been identified quickly because they “got sloppy”. The head of the US National Security Agency (NSA) also backed the FBI after its own analysis identified North Korea as the chief culprit.
And now it seems almost certain that the United States was behind the web outage when a top US lawmaker on cybersecurity issues this week admitted the outage was in retaliation for the hack of Sony’s Hollywood studio.
Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, did not identify who was responsible for the outage. But according to Bloomberg, he became the first US official to link the outage as reprisal for disrupting computers at Sony Pictures Entertainment.
“There were some cyber responses to North Korea,” McCaul said earlier in his public remarks at the event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. McCaul was then asked if the North Korea Internet outage was one of the responses, he said yes. However he declined to say if the US was behind the action.
That hack last November came as Sony Pictures prepared to release “The Interview”, a comedy about a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The hack penetrated Sony Pictures’ internal network and led to the leak of unreleased films, as well as the publication of embarrassing internal documents, including the salary details of top executives and personal information on Hollywood celebrities.
The hackers later threatened attacks upon cinemas who released the film, and as a result most major cinema chains declined to screen the film, forcing Sony to pull the film, a decision that Hollywood stars and President Obama condemned. Following that, Sony released the film in a small number of independent cinemas and it was also distributed online by Sony, Microsoft, Google and Apple.
Cyber-warfare has been rife in Korea over the past couple of years. In March 2013, North Korea was up in arms about alleged cyber attacks coming from America, alleging the US and South Korea were collaborating to disrupt the nation’s Internet.
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