An American security expert was targeted by North Korean hackers ... so he responded by turning off North Korea's entire Internet

Feb 6th

Most of us, when we get hacked, will do the usual: Change our passwords, update our Norton AntiVirus, maybe call the IT guy at work and get some advice.

Then there's this guy:

For the past two weeks, observers of North Korea's strange and tightly restricted corner of the internet began to notice that the country seemed to be dealing with some serious connectivity problems. On several different days, practically all of its websites—the notoriously isolated nation only has a few dozen—intermittently dropped offline en masse, from the booking site for its Air Koryo airline to Naenara, a page that serves as the official portal for dictator Kim Jong-un's government. At least one of the central routers that allow access to the country's networks appeared at one point to be paralyzed, crippling the Hermit Kingdom's digital connections to the outside world.

What was the culprit? A strike team of highly trained U.S. cybersecurity warriors? A cabal of Russian hackers operating out of some warehouse in Kharyyalakh??

Oh nah it was kinda literally just a dude:

[I]t was the work of one American man in a T-shirt, pajama pants, and slippers, sitting in his living room night after night, watching Alien movies and eating spicy corn snacks—and periodically walking over to his home office to check on the progress of the programs he was running to disrupt the internet of an entire country.

Turns out this guy is a "security researcher" who was among many targeted by North Korea last year. Fed up with the U.S.'s apparent lack of response on that front, he took matters into his own hands:

P4x says he's 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. For the most part, he declined to publicly reveal those vulnerabilities, which he argues would help the North Korean government defend against his attacks. But he named, as an example, a known bug in the web server software NginX that mishandles certain HTTP headers, allowing the servers that run the software to be overwhelmed and knocked offline. He also alluded to finding "ancient" versions of the web server software Apache, and says he's started to examine North Korea's own national homebrew operating system, known as Red Star OS, which he described as an old and likely vulnerable version of Linux.

I don't know what half of that means, but I get the general idea: This is a pretty talented guy who has managed to find some absurdly easy holes in North Korea's busted Internet network. And you gotta admit it's pretty entertaining.

Thoughts and prayers to North Korea's one IT guy who's surely having the worst few weeks of his career if he's not already dead (he's probably already dead).

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P.S. Now check out our latest video: CNN's Brian Stelter doesn't know why people trust Joe Rogan. Let me help you, Brian. 👇


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