US hacker takes entire North Korea offline

A hacker from the United States was able to independently disconnect the entire North Korea from the Internet. He did this from his home PC, taking advantage of all the vulnerabilities found in the North Korean section of the Internet.

At the same time, the computer worked independently, and the hacker watched movies at that time. The digital blackout was in retaliation for North Korean hackers hacking their computers in early 2021.

Wired portal as P4x, cut off an entire country from the Global Network in January 2022 without anyone’s help. North Korea became its victim, and P4x made such a choice for a reason.

According to the publication, earlier P4x himself suffered from the actions of North Korean hackers, which he really did not like. He decided to take revenge on a grand scale, which resulted in the shutdown of the entire country from the World Wide Web.

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Hackers “hurt” P4x during a massive attack on those who specialize in finding vulnerabilities. They hacked into their systems and stole research results, as well as the software they use in their work, while working for the North Korean government. The attack was discussed in detail in the report of the Google Threat Analysis Group, whose experts identified it at the very beginning of 2021.

P4x suffered as a result of this malware campaign in January 2021. Another hacker unknown to him sent him an unknown file, calling it a tool for exploiting vulnerabilities. This file, as it turned out later, opened hidden remote access to his computer.

According to the hacker, he managed to prevent his Korean “colleagues” from stealing anything of value from him. But he nonetheless felt deeply concerned that state-sponsored hackers were targeting him personally, as well as the lack of any visible response from the US government.

Preparing for the “battle”

Having become a victim of a hack, P4x decided that the best defense is an attack. “I felt like it was the right thing to do. If they (hackers from North Korea – approx. CNews) do not see that we have teeth, they will continue to appear, ”P4x said in a conversation with Wired employees.

The hacker began by analyzing the North Korean segment of the Internet and quickly identified numerous unpatched vulnerabilities that dramatically increase the likelihood of success in the event of a DDoS attack. In an interview with Wired, he did not reveal all the secrets, citing the fact that the authorities of the country he attacked could read the article and order them to fix the gaps.

However, P4x did give a few examples. Specifically, he reported that he had found an unpatched, well-known “hole” in the Nginx web server that incorrectly handles certain HTTP headers, allowing the servers it is running to be shut down or rebooted.

P4x also mentioned some “ancient” versions of the Apache web server and said he had begun looking into North Korea’s own national homebrew operating system, known as Red Star OS, which he described as an old and probably very vulnerable version of Linux.

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“Pajama Revenge”

After collecting the “anamnesis”, P4x decided to exploit all the vulnerabilities he found in the networks of North Korea. In his words, he was able to “put” the Internet in all of North Korea right from his home, while not really concentrating on the process.

The hacker claims he was sitting on the couch in his living room during the break-in in a T-shirt, pajama bottoms and slippers, watching alien movies and snacking on spicy corn snacks. His computer did all the work for him, and he only periodically took time off from watching movies to check on how everything was going.

P4x claims to have been able to largely automate its attacks on North Korean systems. He only needed to periodically run various scripts that did all the work for him.

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An instant effect that almost no one noticed

The simple and at the same time trouble-free methods that the hacker chose for revenge did their job almost instantly. At the time of the attack, writes Wired, almost every North Korean site stopped opening.

Junade Ali, a cybersecurity researcher who monitors the North Korean Internet, told Wired that he had detected mysterious massive DDoS attacks on the North Korean segment of the web. He had no idea who was behind them, but he saw how the country’s key routers periodically failed, taking with them not only access to the country’s websites, but also to its e-mail and any other Internet services. “Because their routers fail, it becomes literally impossible to transfer data to North Korea,” Ali said, describing the result of the attack as “virtually a total internet shutdown affecting the entire country.”

It is not yet known how the North Korean authorities reacted to DDoS attacks on their country’s network, and what they will say when they find out that only one fan of films about aliens was able to cut them off from the Internet. However, the vast majority of the country’s population did not notice anything, since they do not have access to the Internet anyway. According to experts, the dozens that became inaccessible as a result of the P4x attack are mainly used for propaganda and other similar purposes, and they are aimed at an international audience, and not at the citizens of the country.

P4x himself seems to be aware of this. He stated that he never wanted to harm the ordinary people of North Korea. “I was definitely aiming to get the common people as little as possible and the government as much as possible,” the hacker said.

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One for all and all for one

Having once broken the Internet in North Korea, P4x does not even think about stopping there. He probably wants to arrange a real “digital hell” for the authorities of this country, and for this purpose he organized the FUNK Project community on the darknet, the abbreviation in the name of which stands for F..k you North Korea.

He hopes that his ideas on hacking North Korea will be shared by other hackers who will band together and collectively attack the country’s computer networks. “The goal of the project is to attack systems and collect information to prevent North Korea from hacking into the Western world freely,” the project’s website says.

After falling victim to foreign-state-sponsored cyberespionage in early 2021, P4x has spent most of this year on other projects of its own. But, having never seen any reaction from the US authorities to the attacks of North Korean hackers, he decided to take matters into his own hands, which resulted in DDoS attacks on the whole country from his home “office”.

P4x has stated that its hacktivist efforts are directed not only at the North Korean government, but at its own. His cyberattacks on North Korean networks, he says, are in part an attempt to draw attention to what he sees as the government’s lack of response to North Korean attacks on American citizens. “If no one helps me, I will help myself,” he summed up.

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