Posted on February 7, 2022 at 12:00 PM
During the last few weeks of January, internet connectivity in North Korea was largely disrupted. The internet disruption in North Korea was reported by many publications stating that the disruption had affected internet connectivity across the country.
Internet disruption in North Korea
Some of the reports stated that the “attack against North Korean servers took the entire country off the internet.” The internet disruption happened amidst the country launching missile tests that have attracted the attention of other countries. The attack happened a day after the fifth missile test happened.
Following this attack, a lot of suspicions fell towards the West due to the growing concern of North Korean missile tests. Some of the reports even specifically pointed to the US Cyber Command as the main suspect. However, the main culprit of this attack was not any government-sponsored organization.
An American hacker dubbed P4x has come out to claim responsibility for the internet blackout in North Korea. The hacker was speaking during an interview with Wired and the news publication has confirmed that the evidence tabled by the hacker proves that the claim was genuine.
Wired stated that P4x revealed that the motive behind these attacks was to send a message to North Korea. “I want them to understand that if you come at us, it means some of your infrastructures is going down for a while,” the hacker stated.
However, the hacker did not go on a revenge mission because of the missile launches. At the beginning of 2021, hackers affiliated with North Korea launched an attack on Microsoft Windows and Google Chrome. The hackers managed to bypass the defenses of the two platforms, with the motive being to target security researchers based in the US.
However, this event happened over a year ago, and it is only now that the hacker has chosen to pay back through a countrywide cyberattack. During the interview with Wired, the hacker stated that the hacking attack launched against US security researchers was not successful; in his opinion. However, he was “deeply unnerved” by the occurrence.
The hacker was mainly concerned that he was on the receiving end of this hacking campaign. He was also disturbed by the lack of the US to give a visible response to the hackers despite their ill motives and the devastating effects caused by the breach.
The hacker took his time to conduct this attack. He conducted a penetration test against North Korea’s infrastructure system. The hacker had all the essentials needed to conduct a denial-of-service attack. These tests allowed the hacker top find vulnerabilities in North Korea’s internet security systems.
The hacker targeted these vulnerabilities on the servers and routers. He targeted the vulnerabilities that were yet to be patched. The affected servers and routers were those that North Korea mainly depended upon to connect with other countries. this affected the functionality of North Korean sites. Other services including email were also affected by these attacks.
The hacker further stated that they were pleased with the attack because they felt that it was the right thing to do. “If they don’t see we have teeth, it’s just going to keep coming,” the hacker added.
The article also notes that the hacker has not finished his revenge mission against North Korea. The article suggests that the hacker could be looking to infiltrate North Korea’s cybersecurity systems to gain access to information that can later be shared with experts. This could be similar to the government-sponsored attacks used to infiltrate other country’s systems with the objective of stealing sensitive information.
Hacking attack could cause ripple effects
While the attack on North Korean was conducted by an ordinary American, the ripple effects could be devastating. Ian Thornton-Trump, a military intelligence operator from Canada and the current chief information security officer with the Cyjax threat intelligence firm has assessed the future effects of this attack.
“Online vigilantism or hacktivism is a dangerous game, to begin with, against a nation-state, it is foolhardy.” The expert also stated that North Korea was well equipped in matters of cybersecurity. Moreover, the country was not bound by the moral and ethical constraints that govern other countries.
Therefore, there is a high chance that North Korea will reiterate this attack. Thornton-Trump stated that the US cybersecurity system had labeled cybersecurity attacks conducted by North Korean hackers as “Hidden Cobra.” “If you poke Hidden Cobra with a cyber stick, I hope the real cobra does not sink its fangs deep into you,” the expert added.