Reports have flooded the globe of North Korea’s internet outages on Monday, with rumours emerging of the country suffering total loss of access at one stage. In the wake of November’s Sony Pictures cyber-attack (alleged to have been committed by hackers in Pyongyang responding to Hollywood political satire ‘The Interview’ despite North Korea denying responsibility), the North Korean internet blackouts have been linked with America; President Obama’s response to the hack indicating an intention to retaliate against the suspected perpetrators: ‘I think it was an act of cyber-vandalism that was very costly, very expensive…We take it very seriously…We will respond proportionately.’ Alternative possibilities for the outages are a software glitch on a router, although, according to US-based internet monitoring company Dyn, routing instabilities usually improve over time rather than getting progressively worse. Dyn say that North Korea appears to be back online today, with spokesman Jim Cowie commenting that: ‘The question is whether it will return to the unstable fluctuations we saw before the outage.’
TeleGeography notes that North Korea, infamous for its limited national connectivity, has only one internet service provider, Star JV, which commenced services in November 2010. Broadband access is only permitted with special authorisation and primarily used for government purposes. The rest of the country is not permitted access to international sources of news, with the only form of web access available being to the nationwide intranet called ‘Kwangmyong’, established in 2000, connecting universities, libraries, cyber cafes and other institutions.