Internet In North Korea Is Back, Baby, But Who Pulled The Plug?

What's the longest that you've been out of Internet? One time, my roommate forgot to pay the bill — she thought I was supposed to pay it, but I'm not here to finger point — and we were out of Netflixland for about five hours. On Monday, that happened to an entire country, and not because someone forgot to pay a bill. North Korea's Internet was restored on Tuesday after a nine-hour outage. I heard that Kim Jong Un rewired it by hand!

Thus far no one has claimed responsibility for the outage, and the U.S. and China have flatly denied any involvement with this attack. But it does seem like a strange coincidence that President Obama promised a "proportional response" to the alleged North Korean hack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, then days later the Internet disappears. But experts say the brevity of the outage indicates that the job was not done by a government, some venturing as far to say that this could have been carried out by one person. Matthew Prince, co-founder of cloud security company Cloudflare, was unimpressed by the outage and North Korea's Internet in general.

It’s far more likely this attack was carried out by a 15-year old kid in a Guy Fawkes mask than the National Security Agency. If a nation state decided they would launch this attack, it’s much more likely you’d see a total collapse.
Feng Li/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Think about nine hours without the Internet. I went on a cruise two years ago and refused to pay for the $100,000-per-minute charge for WiFi on the ship. It made me realize a lot about myself. First, I am hopelessly addicted to the Internet. Second, I am not actually that smart without the help of Google. I don't know how many factual disputes I had with my then-boyfriend that could have easily been settled with a Google search. It was sobering, and also terrifying that my memory is that bad.

But in North Korea, the outage probably didn't do that much. A very limited number of the country's 24 million people have access to the Internet at all, so attacking the Internet in a technological desert might not be that effective. The websites for a state-run news agency and an external public relations company were down, however, so expect to see a lot of reports coming out of North Korea telling you that it definitely didn't happen and that Kim Jong Un is still number one.

Images: Getty Images