Sources Say the U.S. Didn’t Take Down North Korea’s Internet

Kim Jong-un inspects the Korean People’s Army command center.

Photo by KNS/AFP/Getty Images

Two senior U.S. officials told the Associated Press that the United States did not launch a hack against North Korea to take down its Internet last month. The U.S. government was suspected because reports that North Korea’s Internet was down started on Dec. 20, hours after President Obama said that the U.S. would “respond proportionally” to North Korea for perpetrating the Sony Pictures hack.

Ever since the incident, it has been unclear whether the situation was caused by an infrastructure problem, a hack that came from the U.S., or an attack launched by someone else. The Obama administration was quiet, and the AP reports that there was even uncertainty within the White House about what had actually happened. But two anonymous senior officials have now told the AP that the U.S. government was not behind the outage.

The Obama administration was reportedly reluctant to discuss the situation because it wants to avoid disclosing details about the U.S.’s cyber-offensive capabilities. It also may be trying to confuse the North Koreans.

At a cybersecurity conference in New York, Obama’s homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, said, “I’m not going to comment, and I never would, on operational capabilities. … But you want to be able to have a number of tools in your toolbox and reserve them for use.”