North Korea's internet suffered a massive outage today in the midst of escalating tensions between the country and the United States over the Sony hacking scandal.
The website North Korea Tech said this morning that connectivity has been extremely low over the past 24 hours in the country, which could be attributed to routine maintenance problems, or something more unusual.
The blog quotes Doug Madory of the internet analysis group Dyn Research, saying "I haven't seen such a steady beat of routing instability and outages in KP before. Usually there are isolated blips, not continuous connectivity problems. I wouldn't be surprised if they are absorbing some sort of attack presently."
The internet outage comes three days after President Barack Obama vowed a "proportional response" to the Sony hacking attack, which the FBI pinned on North Korea. On Saturday, the New York Times reported that the Obama administration was asking China to help "block" and "cripple" North Korea's ability to carry out the attack, noting that North Korea's internet is wired through Chinese networks.
When asked about the internet outage at the daily press briefing at the State Department today, Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf reiterated that the US is considering "a range of operations in response" to the hacking attack.
"We are not going to discuss publicly operational details or comment on the reports, except that as we implement our responses, some will be seen and some may not be seen."
The US State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment from VICE News over whether it was involved in the current outage in North Korea.
In the escalating war of words between North Korea and the United States over the Sony hacking attack, Obama said this weekend that he was reconsidering whether to put the isolated Asian country back on the US terror list.
The comments came after the North Korean government, which denies involvement in the Sony attack, released a statement saying its target was not just a single movie production company, but "all the citadels of the US imperialists"and threatening further cyber attacks.
The terror list includes countries the US has determined to be state sponsors of terrorism, and it included North Korea until 2008.
"We have got very clear criteria as to what it means for a state to sponsor terrorism, and we don't make those judgments just based on the news of the day,"Obama told CNN Sunday. "We look systematically at what's been done."
He also said he did not consider the hack as an act of war, but one of cyber vandalism.
Obama said earlier in the week that he believed Sony should not have caved to pressure from the hackers and pulled its movie, though the hackers have released statements threatening the release of even more damaging information if the movie were to be released.
"Now we want you never let the movie released, distributed or leaked in any form of, for instance, DVD or piracy,"the Guardians of Peace said, according to an email obtained by CNN. "And we want everything related to the movie, including its trailers, as well as its full version down from any website hosting them immediately."
"We still have your private and sensitive data," they said.
As a result of the private data already released by the hackers, Sony is now facing four separate lawsuits by current and former employees whose personal information was posted to the web.
Despite the threats of more hacking releases, Sony says it is still looking for ways to release the movie. Rumors circulated this weekend that the movie would be released through Sony's streaming service, Crackle, for free, but the studio denied that claim. Sony CEO Michael Lynton said that none of the major video on demand services, such as Netflix, had expressed interest in streaming the film.
Sony lawyer David Boies said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that the movie "will be distributed. How it's going to be distributed, I don't think anybody knows quite yet. But it's going to be distributed."
Earlier this month in the weeks immediately following the hack, Sony said that it had already made the decision to not release _The Interview_in the countries near North Korea. Sony's plans for its Asia-Pacific region included only Australia and New Zealand, according to Variety.
Meanwhile, internet users have taken to IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes to give _The Interview_near-perfect ratings, though it has not been publicly released anywhere.
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