All this North Korea and Sony hacking stuff has been taking a dark turn of late. Yesterday, North Korea was apparently vanished from the global internet by circumstances unknown. I say unknown in the sense that the hackers who invaded Sony Pictures over the film "The Interview" remain unknown.
According to Dyn Research (we used to call them Renesys), the paltry few routes North Korea has to the internet through China Unicom became unstable yesterday and then went down completely for 9.5 hours. This came less than a day after Obama promised a 'proportional' response to cyber-vandalism, and was followed by some masked yet gleeful non-denial responses by both named and unnamed officials. A State Department spokeswoman apparently said, "We aren’t going to discuss, you know, publicly operational details about the possible response options... as we implement our responses, some will be seen, some may not be seen." Clarity that was not.
It could be a coincidence. It would probably only take one or two router failures or a fat-fingered misconfiguration, or it could even be play-acting by North Korea. Or it could be a tit-for-tat response by US-based hackers, whether official, sanctioned, or rogue. Please let it not be the last, because if the only lever we have against North Korea is to sic some teenagers on an internet connection the populace doesn't actually get to use anyway, then World War 3: the Cyber Edition is going to be pretty lame. The entire country has just over a thousand IP addresses, after all. You could take down one neighborhood in any suburb of the US and inconvenience more people than that.
And yet, if it is a case of nearly-declared cyberwar, I hope it doesn't spread. After all, any battlefield in this case has been fought within Chinese pipes already. But the whole thing is all so silly, it's hopefully not worth escalating.
Sooner or later, Sony's movie will get released or leaked anyway. And where the movie would likely have flopped in the theaters before and been barely noticed, North Korea's outraged has guaranteed that everyone will see it - eventually. And if it doesn't, someone else will get the funding to cinematically assassinate Kim Jong Un again, especially now that they know it will guarantee a spotlight.
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