Amid North Korea’s continued threats to the United States and South Korea, “hacktivist” group Anonymous – famed for targeting pedophiles, the Chinese government and crooked American financial institutions – wreaked havoc on the North’s official social media presence yesterday, taking over its Uriminzokkiri Twitter account, as well as its Flickr account. The cyber blitz was part of the group’s “Operation Free Korea.”
“Tango Down” read one tweet, which linked to Pyongyang’s Flickr page, normally reserved for laudatory portraits of North Korean leaders. Many visitors were no doubt surprised to see some highly unflattering depictions of their leader.
On Flickr, the usual pictures of Kim Jong-Un greeting uniformed generals were replaced by images of the nation’s leader with a pig-like snout and an image of Mickey Mouse emblazoned on his chest. “Threatening world peace with ICBMs and Nuclear weapons/Wasting money while his people starve to death,” the text below the image read.
The group responsible for the hack also let it be known in a message rendered in white letters over a black background via Flickr, “We are Anonymous.” Using the North’s account, Anonymous tweeted links to various sites that it claims to have hacked, including the state-run news website Uriminzokkiri.com.
A statement allegedly released by the group making the rounds online stated that they had compromised 15,000 accounts on Uriminzokkiri.com and other websites. This statement could not be confirmed, but the website was offline on Thursday.
Anonymous also claimed to have hacked into Pyongyang’s intranet, known as Kwangmyong, though some experts doubt the claim. Here is how they purportedly managed to gain access:
“We have a few guys on the ground who managed to bring the real internet into the country using a chain of long distance WiFi repeaters with proprietary frequencies, so they’re not jammed (yet). We also have access to some N.K. phone landlines which are connected to Kwangmyong through dial-ups. Last missing peace of puzzle was to interconnect the two networks, which those guys finally managed to do.”
As CNET.com reported, this is the second cyber attack on Pyongyang in recent days, with the first also allegedly carried out by Anonymous, which leaked account information from Uriminzokkiri.com last week.
The group demanded that the North cease its nuclear weapons program, Kim Jong-Un step down, democracy be instated in the North and Pyongyang give its citizens universal and uncensored access to the Internet. They have threatened to wage cyber war if these demands are not met.
Given Pyongyang’s record, Anonymous should not hold its breath.