An American is claiming responsibility for shutting down North Korea’s internet twice last month, Wired reports.
The individual is only being identified as “P4x.” The hacker has decided to keep his real identity anonymous, according to the outlet, “for fear of prosecution or retaliation.”
Wired, though, reports that P4x not only spoke with them but also “shared screen recordings to verify his responsibility for the attacks.” The outlet, however, has not revealed what those screen recordings showed.
In recent weeks, observers noticed that North Korea appeared to be having internet problems, specifically connectivity problems.
On multiple occasions, the country’s few dozen internet sites, including dictator Kim Jong-un’s official site, mysteriously went offline. In addition, access to at least one of the country’s central routers was blocked, disconnecting North Korea from the rest of the world.
This led to much speculation about what could be going on.
The internet outages occurred at about the same time that North Korea decided to carry out a series of missile tests. Many speculated that in response, some country, possibly even the United States, might have launched a cyberattack against North Korea.
It wasn’t a country, however. Just one man.
“The right thing to do”
P4x told Wired that he was motivated by two things: one, the North Korean cyberattack, carried out last year, on Western security researchers; and two, the U.S.’s lack of retaliation.
“It felt like the right thing to do here,” P4X told Wired. “If they don’t see we have teeth, it’s just going to keep coming. I want them to understand that if you come at us, it means some of your infrastructure is going down for a while.”
As for how P4x managed to shut down North Korea’s internet, Wired reports that he “found numerous known but unpatched vulnerabilities in North Korean systems that have allowed him to singlehandedly launch ‘denial-of-service’ attacks on the servers and routers the country’s few internet-connected networks depend on.” P4x, however, didn’t reveal those vulnerabilities because he doesn’t want North Korea to fix them.
It is unlikely that P4x caused that much trouble for North Koreans, as only a small portion of the country’s population has access to the internet. What trouble P4x caused for the North Korean government, on the other hand, is a different question, and one that we don’t know the answer to.