In what looks like to be a digital recreation of the Korean War on the 63rd anniversary of the day it began, several key North Korean websites went dark on Tuesday, shortly after their South Korean counterparts went down. And, yes, this fascinating sequence of cyberattacks appears to be the work of the hacker collective Anonymous, which has got bigger plans in store for its threats against the North. But this is a kind of dual attack from somewhere, or maybe two places: News reports from the region this morning report sites in both countries getting taken out, like those for South Korea's prime minister and its presidential Blue House, plus multiple North Korean propaganda sites.
But what matter here is sequence, as NK News's James Pearson points out: "South Korean hackers working under the 'Anonymous' collective appear to have staged a modern-day reconstruction of events by first hacking South Korean websites, then 'counter-attacking' North Korean websites," Pearson writes. Back on June 25, 1950, North Korea crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea and walloped their enemies — hence the South Korean sites getting hacked first. But the South eventually pushed back with the help of American forces, representing the North Korean sites getting taken out (probably by Anonymous, even if the group wasn't responsible for today's first strike).
So what got taken out in Pyonyang? The Associated Press reports that the Northern sites included "those belonging to the national airline, Air Koryo, the Rodong Sinmun newspaper, the North's official Uriminzokkiri site and Naenara, the country's state-run Internet portal." Uriminzokkiri, you may remember was the site that published that video envisioning a U.S. city engulfed in flames to the tune of "We Are the World." And Rodong Sinmun is one of the North's official papers, and has printed some of the best pro-Kim Jong-un puffery that the propaganda state has ever seen.
While obviously unconfirmed, this elaborate web of cyber-attacks appears to be at least partially the work of Anonymous, which has been targeting the Kim regime and sites like Uriminzokkiri since at least April. So the end game is the end of that fake cyber-mirrored war, on the North: Today's acknowledged operation is dubbed #opNorthKorea, which has been circulating social media for weeks now. A purported list of websites hacked under the #opNorthKorea hashtag appears here (and above), and hackers affiliated with Anonymous say claim to have compromised 250+ government sites with ultimate goals that include a "ninja gateway" that would give North Koreans global Internet access and the publishing of North Korean military documents today at midnight local time. "Your major missile documentation and residents, military documents show [sic?] down is already in progress," reads the official warning from Anonymous. "We are partially sharing this information with the world."
June 25 in North Korea isn't just the anniversary of the Korean War, it's also a super-special kind of we-really-hate-America day. On the state-run Korean Central News Agency website, which is running pretty slowly this morning, the propagandists are running stories with headlines like the "U.S., the Provoker of the Korean War" and "DPRK History Society Brands U.S. Provoker of Korean War." So, yes, there would be something deeply poetic about North Korea being fully embarrassed today.
But it's closing in on June 26 in North Korea and the promised cache of military documents still hasn't made an appearance, though according to Hackers News Bulletin, a full leak may appear on WikiLeaks.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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