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North Korea's Internet struggles to return after total shutdown

The totalitarian regime may have been hit by a cyberattack in the midst of a war of words with the US over the Sony hack and Hollywood film "The Interview".

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Expertise Films, TV, Movies, Television, Technology
Richard Trenholm
2 min read

Sony movie "The Interview" is at the centre of a hacking controversy between the USA and North Korea. Sony Pictures

North Korea's Internet has limped back online after it appeared to have been shut down completely.

Analysis of Internet performance from metrics firm Dyn Research showed that after a day of increasing problems, "="" for="" several="" hours"="" shortcode="link" asset-type="article" uuid="2683bbfd-93f5-4ddd-b588-0a89b57213fe" slug="north-koreas-internet-said-to-go-dark-after-cyberattack-claims" link-text="North Korea's national Internet had gone " section="news" title="North Korea's Internet said to go dark after cyberattack claims" edition="us" data-key="link_bulk_key" api="{"id":"2683bbfd-93f5-4ddd-b588-0a89b57213fe","slug":"north-koreas-internet-said-to-go-dark-after-cyberattack-claims","contentType":null,"edition":"us","topic":{"slug":"cybersecurity"},"metaData":{"typeTitle":null,"hubTopicPathString":"Tech^Services and Software^Online^Cybersecurity","reviewType":null},"section":"news"}"> . But two state-run newspapers are now back online, including one showing the country's leader Kim Jong-un touring a catfish farm.

Still, it seems to be a struggle for North Korea to stay consistently online, Dyn Research tweeted overnight and then again into the day Tuesday.

Cybersecurity experts speculate the country may have been subjected to a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.

Under North Korea's totalitarian regime, the country's population already has limited access to the Internet, mostly consisting of state-run news outlets disseminating party ideology. With just four networks connecting the country's Intranet to the global Internet, routed via China, North Korea is vulnerable to cyberattack.

North Korea has been embroiled in a war of words with the US since an extensive hack was carried out against film studio Sony Pictures last month. Hackers leaked unreleased films, confidential emails and financial data from the studio, which had planned to release a comedy movie, "The Interview", about an assassination attempt on Kim Jong-un. Sony's "The Interview", starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, has since been pulled from release.

Although North Korea denied responsibility, the FBI has formally accused the country of the hack. President Obama promised an appropriate response, but it's not clear whether the US was involved in any way in North Korea's Internet problems.

Meanwhile South Korea has beefed up cyber security after the country's power company Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power reported hackers had targeted its 23 nuclear power plants.