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December 23, 2014 Comments (56) Views: 52365 Disconnection, North Korea

Someone Disconnects North Korea – Who?

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North Korea went off the Internet Monday, 22 December 2014, at 16:15 UTC (01:15 UTC Tuesday in Pyongyang) after more than 24 hours of sustained weekend instability. Dyn continually measures the connectivity and performance of more than 510,000 individual networks worldwide, identifying impairments to Internet commerce. It’s a rare event these days when an entire country leaves the Internet (as Egypt did, or Syria). Even so, when North Korea’s four networks went dark, we were not entirely surprised, based on the fragility of their national connectivity to the global Internet.

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Who caused this, and how? A long pattern of up-and-down connectivity, followed by a total outage, seems consistent with a fragile network under external attack. But it’s also consistent with more common causes, such as power problems. Point causes such as breaks in fiberoptic cables, or deliberate upstream provider disconnections, seem less likely because they don’t generate prolonged instability before a total failure. We can only guess. The data themselves don’t speak to motivations, or distinguish human factors from physical infrastructure problems.

As the sun rises in Pyongyang, the national Internet disconnection continues. An outage of this duration is not without precedent for North Korea. As we’ve written before, countries that have a very limited set of international connections are more likely than their better-connected counterparts to suffer from nation-scale disconnections, regardless of the cause.

In this case, North Korea has significantly less Internet to lose, compared to other countries with similar populations: Yemen (47 networks), Afghanistan (370 networks), or Taiwan (5,030 networks). And unlike these countries, North Korea maintains dependence on a single international provider, China Unicom. That’s a fragile state of affairs.

Update: All four North Korean prefixes have been restored to service at 01:46 UTC, after a national outage of nine and a half hours. Traffic is routing through China Unicom, just as before. KP_outa_1419206430

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56 Responses to Someone Disconnects North Korea – Who?

  1. […] a fragile network under external attack,” Jim Cowie, Chief Scientist at Dyn Research said in a post on the company’s […]

  2. […] Cowie, Dyn’s chief scientist, said in a blog post that the outage had some of the hallmarks of a cyber attack. “A long pattern of up-and-down […]

  3. […] Dyn Research observed that a prolonged pattern of up and down connecvitiy followed by a complete outage “seems consistent with a fragile network under external attack” – but that it could also be a problem with the internet infrastructure in North Korea, perhaps some kind of power outage, or break in a fibre optic cable. […]

  4. […] to Dyn, North Korea’s internet was restored at 01:46 UTC[2] with traffic “routing through China Unicom, just as before”. The company noted today […]

  5. […] Dyn Research nicht ganz ausschließen , dass nicht auch einfach nur ein Stromausfall den Internetzugang von ganz Nordkorea lahm gelegt haben könnte. […]

  6. […] seems consistent with a fragile network under external attack,” Cowie said in a Monday blog. “But it’s also consistent with more common causes, such as power […]

  7. […] four North Korean prefixes have been restored to service at 01:46 UTC, after a national outage of nine and a half hours. Traffic is routing through China […]

  8. […] say that on Monday (December 22nd) after 24 hours of instability, North Korea’s Internet access was cut entirely. By the following morning, almost ten hours […]

  9. […] Dyn Research, who has been an oft-cited source throughout North Korea’s internet outage, comme…: […]

  10. […] Research notes that “North Korea has significantly less Internet to lose, compared to other countries with […]

  11. […] Research notes that “North Korea has significantly less Internet to lose, compared to other countries with […]

  12. […] Hampshire-based Dyn Research, an Internet performance analysis firm, said in a posting on its web site that North Korea’s […]

  13. Francisca says:

    With this weak internet infrastructure is hard to believe the Sony atack could have ever been deployed from NK. Well, it seems all its traffic is routed through China. And China authorities (let’s put it that way) don’t have a special taste for leader’s criticism. You just have to put two and two together.

  14. […] According to Dyn Research, Internet entrance returned after a 9.5-hour outage. “Traffic is routing by China Unicom, […]

  15. […] Dyn Research nicht ganz ausschließen , dass nicht auch einfach nur ein Stromausfall den Internetzugang von ganz Nordkorea lahm gelegt haben könnte. […]

  16. […] whole lot’s been made of North Korea undergoing a Distributed Denial of Service attack yesterday that basically cut it off from the rest of the internet. There’s been speculation that the […]

  17. […] он был отключен на протяжении 9,5 часов. Об этом сообщает компания Dyn Research, специализирующаяся на анализе […]

  18. […] four North Korean prefixes have been restored to service at 01:46 UTC, after a national outage of nine and a half hours. Traffic is routing through China […]

  19. […] When four networks go down in a country where hardly anyone has internet access, does it make any sense to say that North Korea had an internet outage? […]

  20. […] a rare event these days when an entire country leaves the Internet,” it said, in a statement. “Even so, when North Korea’s four networks went dark, we were not entirely surprised, based on […]

  21. […] a rare event these days when an entire country leaves the Internet,” it said, in a statement. “Even so, when North Korea’s four networks went dark, we were not entirely surprised, based on […]

  22. […] a rare event these days when an entire country leaves the Internet,” it said, in a statement. “Even so, when North Korea’s four networks went dark, we were not entirely surprised, based on […]

  23. […] a rare event these days when an entire country leaves the Internet,” it said, in a statement. “Even so, when North Korea’s four networks went dark, we were not entirely surprised, based on […]

  24. […] a rare event these days when an entire country leaves the Internet,” it said, in a statement. “Even so, when North Korea’s four networks went dark, we were not entirely surprised, based on […]

  25. […] a rare event these days when an entire country leaves the Internet,” it said, in a statement. “Even so, when North Korea’s four networks went dark, we were not entirely surprised, […]

  26. […] a rare event these days when an entire country leaves the Internet,” it said, in a statement. “Even so, when North Korea’s four networks went dark, we were not entirely surprised, […]

  27. […] Research notes that “North Korea has significantly less Internet to lose, compared to other countries with […]

  28. […] pour l’instant, on sait finalement peu de chose sur la panne : comme l’explique Dyn Research, celle-ci a duré environ 9 heures et a touché l’ensemble du réseau internet du pays durant la […]

  29. […] company that tracks the health of the infrastructure underlying the internet, Dyn Research, broke the news of the latest connectivity failure in North Korea on Twitter. Dyn Research has been […]

  30. […] tracks Internet connectivity issues around the globe — said its sensors noted that North Korea inexplicably went offline on Monday, Dec. 22, at around 16:15 UTC (01:15 UTC Tuesday in the North Korean capital of […]

  31. […] a rare event these days when an entire country leaves the Internet,” it said, in a statement. “Even so, when North Korea’s four networks went dark, we were not entirely surprised, based on […]

  32. […] a rare event these days when an entire country leaves the Internet,” it said, in a statement. “Even so, when North Korea’s four networks went dark, we were not entirely surprised, based on […]

  33. […] company that tracks the health of the infrastructure underlying the internet, Dyn Research, broke the news of the latest connectivity failure in North Korea on Twitter. Dyn Research has been […]

  34. […] tracks Internet connectivity issues around the globe — said its sensors noted that North Korea inexplicably went offline on Monday, Dec. 22, at around 16:15 UTC (01:15 UTC Tuesday in the North Korean capital of […]

  35. […] Internet connectivity issues around the globe — said its sensors noted that North Korea inexplicably went offline on Monday, Dec. 22, at around 16:15 UTC (01:15 UTC Tuesday in the North Korean capital of […]

  36. […] a rare event these days when an entire country leaves the Internet,” it said, in a statement. “Even so, when North Korea’s four networks went dark, we were not entirely surprised, based on […]

  37. […] company that tracks the health of the infrastructure underlying the internet, Dyn Research, broke the news of the latest connectivity failure in North Korea on Twitter. Dyn Research has been […]

  38. […] internet suffered instability and came back online after nine-and-a-half hours of outage, according to Dyn Research, which monitors thousands of networks […]

  39. […] internet suffered instability and came back online after nine-and-a-half hours of outage, according to Dyn Research, which monitors thousands of networks […]

  40. […] internet suffered instability and came back online after nine-and-a-half hours of outage, according to Dyn Research, which monitors thousands of networks […]

  41. […] connectivity, we see an updated version of the plot that Dyn Research showed in their Monday outage blog.   Here you can see the single-provider connectivity chain that connects North Korea to the global […]

  42. […] to Dyn, North Korea’s internet was restored at 01:46 UTC with traffic “routing through China Unicom, just as before”. The company noted today […]

  43. […] from the internet over the last several days (update as of midnight December 24); Ars Technica, Dyn Research and North Korea Tech are the sites that have provided good coverage of the outages. As with the […]

  44. […] According to Dyn Research, Internet entrance returned after a 9.5-hour outage. “Traffic is routing by China Unicom, […]

  45. […] internet suffered instability and came back online after nine-and-a-half hours of outage, according to Dyn Research, which monitors thousands of networks […]

  46. […] North Korea’s outage final night, as available by Dyn Research […]

  47. […] a rare event these days when an entire country leaves the Internet,” it said, in a statement. “Even so, when North Korea’s four networks went dark, we were not entirely surprised, based on […]

  48. […] conexión a Internet en Corea del Norte ha sido reestablecida según Dyn Research, quien dio la voz de aviso. Todo el tráfico de Internet de este país ya vuelve a pasar mediante […]

  49. […] sites and network infrastructure. The country also experienced a 24-hour period of network instability just prior to the blackout that was consistent with an outside cyber attack, according to an […]

  50. […] say that on Monday (December 22nd) after 24 hours of instability, North Korea’s Internet access was cut entirely. By the following morning, almost ten hours […]

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