As the world waits with bated breath to see if Pyongyang will make good on its nuclear threats, the hacker collective Anonymous has made its own move in the increasingly cyber conflict between North Korea and the world.
On Tuesday, the group claimed to have stolen 15,000 passwords from the communist nation as part of what it calls Operation North Korea. Late Wednesday, as tensions rose in Kaesong over the North's closure and seizure of a industrial park it shares with the South, along with repeated declarations of nuclear launch, Anonymous advanced its own chess pieces. The hackers allegedly seized control of North Korea's official Twitter and Flickr accounts, in the process defacing several related websites, and making the autocratic nation look extremely unprepared for cyber attack.
Tango Down flickr.com/photos/uriminz…— uriminzokkiri (@uriminzok) April 4, 2013
The Uriminzokkiri accounts on both the social media networks, which translates to "our nation," looked like anything but North Korea's after the strike. The Twitter account's avatar changed to a couple in Guy Fawkes masks tangoing, while the Flickr account filled up with less-than-flattering images of the supreme leader, Kim Jong Un.
In addition, several sites hocking propaganda material have been hit by digital graffiti (visit Aindf.com to see a wanted poster of Kim Jong Un). North Korean state-run news site Uriminzokkiri.com has been knocked offline, possibly by related DDoS attack. The Next Web is reporting that a Pastebin note, allegedly from the hacktivists, claims that they have agents on the ground fighting off the North's "cyber army." Below is an excerpt from the latest Pastebin message, supposedly penned by Anonymous members, explaining the group's reasoning and m.o. for the attack:
If Kim Jong Un really does have thousands of soldiers in his cyber army, it's likely that this attack will soon be thwarted and things will go back to normal. Normal, of course, being a relative term as the bluffing situation escalates between the peninsula and the rest of the world.
Will Anonymous' actions (in February it hacked the U.S. State Department) push the conflict over the edge and give the 30-year-old despot reason to hit the launch button and plunge the world into hot war? Who knows what this digital assault will do to the man's ego, since he is already eager to prove himself in the wake of his father's passing.
When ex-NBA oddball Dennis "the Worm" Rodman seems to have more on-the-ground knowledge of the leader than every major intelligence agency combined, you know we're in a pickle, no matter how you cut it. Anonymous is pulling on the tail of a tiger. If this is the prelude to the end of the world, let's hope it has a viable plan for when the beast turns around and bares its fangs.
Image courtesy of Uriminzokkiri