While the sum total of North Korea’s I.T. capabilities would appear to be a room full of decades-old PCs that aren’t plugged into anything, America is nonetheless taking steps to disable the entire country’s internet access, to “send a message” to the world about hacking.
At a press conference yesterday, President Barack Obama said that America would make a “proportional response” to the recent Sony Pictures hack, which it’s widely believed was ordered by North Korean officials, and carried out by people in other countries.
The New York Times report that America is viewing the Sony hack as one of “the first major, state-sponsored destructive computer-network attacks on American soil”, and are taking it very seriously.
‘Seriously’ like ‘cutting off an entire country’s internet access’ seriously.
As Complex point out, though, a lot of this plan is dependent on China. The few elite North Koreans who do have internet access receive it via telecommunication routers based there, so China would have to agree, which may well not happen.
For several years, America and China have discussed the prospect of establishing “rules of the road” for acceptable internet behaviour, so this could well turn out to be a test case.
While the majority of North Korean citizens would probably not even notice the difference, the idea that a sovereign state is trying to take real steps to cut off another country’s internet access has some pretty staggering implications for the future.
For instance, Australia depends on a series of submarine cables for the vast majority of our internet data, which is vital for communication and infrastructure, and there have been calls in the past to monitor them more closely.
While the idea of an attack on submarine cables – state-sanctioned or otherwise – is pretty far-fetched, it’s a reminder of the fact that we are probably far more vulnerable than we’d like to think we are when it comes to the internet.
Hold your iPhone, tablet or device of choice close and tell it that you love it.
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