One hacker took down the entire network of North Korea for personal revenge
late January. North Korea’s public internet suffered a power outage for several days, leaving the country even more isolated from the world. As the North Koreans recently conducted missile tests alarming their neighbors, locals and outsiders concluded that the Asian country was the victim of a computer attack orchestrated by a hostile country to violate its systems and access information from those tests. But everyone is wrong.
Behind the attack is not a country, not even groups of hackers, but a single hacker independent of the United States who decided to take justice into his own hands and avenge a personal insult by bringing down North Korean regimes, according to US media reports Wired.
The protagonist in this story, who can hardly be imagined wearing a black T-shirt and the frustrated appearance of Elliot Alderson, is an independent hacker, he explains, who was attacked last year by North Korean hacker groups in a campaign that focused exclusively on Asians. Cybersecurity-related goals to try to steal information about potential vulnerabilities of US systems.
The hacker says he managed to escape the attacks and prevent the North Koreans from hacking his systems, but he said they were about to steal something very valuable, and he didn’t give details about it. This, combined with the fact that, he says, the US government did nothing to counter the attack, made him decide to bring justice himself by causing a blackout in the country’s grid ruled by Kim Jong-un.
Eager to retaliate, the American hacker began investigating North Korean systems and found many known and unpatched vulnerabilities, which allowed him to launch denial-of-service attacks alone on the servers on which the few North Korean networks connected to the global Internet depend. The hacker didn’t want to reveal these vulnerabilities (so as not to help the North Korean government defend itself by shutting them down, he says), but he shared screen recordings with Wired to certify his story.
Once the vulnerabilities are discovered, it completes the attacks by periodically running scripts that enumerate which systems remain online and then launching exploits.
Despite the astonishing nature of the action (one person taking down the public networks of an entire country), the fact is that this hacker was able to do so, in large part, because North Korea hardly exists in the world of the Wide Web, and so it doesn’t have Except on a few dozen pages for free access, most of them are propaganda for foreigners. On the other hand, few of its residents have access to free internet, and the country only uses a state-controlled local network, although it is not clear who has access to this type of government intranet.
The hacker also told Wired that his attacks destroyed websites and prevented foreigners from accessing any services hosted in North Korea.