How a Hacker Shut Down North Korea’s Entire Internet “I attacked them because they were trying to spy on me”

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An American hacker shut down North Korea’s internet for more than seven days in retaliation for the North Koreans trying to break into his computer. Photo: Profimedia Images

Two years after hacker P4x revealed how he shut down the internet in North Korea, he has made an unusual decision for those in the underground world to reveal his true identity. The reason why Alejandro Cáceres decided to take over Kim Jong Un’s regime was a very personal one – reports suggest that the North Koreans tried to infect his computer. El Pies.

The start of 2022 must have been very confusing for Pyongyang’s top brass. The North Korean military conducted several ballistic missile tests in January of that year, causing celebration for Pyongyang.

But the festive mood did not last long. After the last test, internet went down across the country. The wave of cyber attacks paralyzed all systems for more than seven days.

First, major national websites were down – from the official news site to the page selling air tickets for Air Koryo flights.

Then all digital links with the rest of the world were severed. Emails can no longer be sent or received, and there is no connection to cloud services. The siege was over.

As the cyber attack came so soon after Pyongyang’s military maneuvers, many observers see the incident as a response by some Western nations to North Korea’s war games.

The truth is, the entire operation was orchestrated by someone from his home in Miami — someone calling himself P4x (pronounced Pax).

Alejandro Cáceres reveals his true identity two years after North Korea’s internet shutdown Photo: Alejandro Caceres

“I believe that if someone attacks you, you should respond”

Caceres worked through the night in shorts and slippers, with a generous supply of beer and other snacks on hand.

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He wrote what he considered simple programs on his laptop, rented several servers and looked at his projects.

The revenge was personal: The North Koreans tried to hack into his computer a year ago. “Something had to be done. I believe that if someone attacks you, you have to respond,” Caceres said.

The hacker documented his cyber attack, recording videos and taking pictures throughout the process.

He disclosed to the press the details of his entry into North Korea’s cyberspace WiredIt confirmed his claims and published the story in February 2022, shortly after the incident.

Two years later, P4x revealed his real name – Alejandro Cáceres. The 39-year-old owns cyber security firm Hyperion Gray. His parents were from Colombia, but he was born in the United States.

Asked if he participated in Ukraine’s cyber defense, which is supported by thousands of cyber security experts around the world, he replied: “I don’t remember.”

“Dennis Rodman didn’t come to beat me”

Although he is now an enemy of North Korea, Cáceres does not seem to fear for his life. However, he took some precautions.

“I don’t like guns, but when I talk to military and intelligence officials, they tell me that a lot of things can happen. So now I have a keyboard, a mouse, a microphone and a Glock on the table,” Caceres said with a laugh.

“No one has attacked me for so long. Before I did what I did, I looked at the numbers. “In the last 45 years, the North Korean regime has killed only two people: one was Kim Jong Un’s brother and the other was an American in their country,” Cáceres said, referring to the imprisoned young man, Otto Warmbier. He died days later.

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“Dennis Rodman didn’t come to beat me,” Caceres said, recalling a strange incident that happened to him recently.

He met a Canadian-Japanese neuroscientist through a dating app.

“When we met I clearly saw that she was Korean. You checked that the person who wrote the messages was someone else and you couldn’t understand him. I started looking for information about her and found nothing.

“He told me he changed his name because he was related to a North Korean dictator named Kim. Then I said ‘goodbye’.”

The incident happened in March of this year, shortly after Cáceres revealed his identity.

North Korean hackers accessed Bangladesh National Bank’s computer system. Photo: Profimedia Images

“My attack on North Korea is a message to America too”

For more than a decade, Cáceres has worked with the Pentagon, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and the FBI through his cybersecurity firm. And since shutting down the internet in North Korea, the US National Security Agency (NSA) has also reached out.

Everyone wanted to know how he managed such a thing. “Officially, they can’t say anything about what they told me about my cyber attack, but they were happy. I know what I did was illegal, but I can’t imagine that North Korea would take me to court.

“My attack on North Korea was in response to them trying to spy on me, but it’s also a message to the United States,” Cáceres said.

He told the FBI that the North Koreans had tried to break into his computer using malware, but US authorities had done nothing.

“It was very clear to me that they didn’t know what to do, they had no plan, they had nothing. A group of terrorists protected by a failed state that attacked American citizens — they’re not going to do anything? It doesn’t seem fair to me,” Cáceres said.

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The American hacker decided to do something. He was surprised when he discovered that all North Korea’s internet connections were centralized by two routers – “they’re not big, they’re medium-sized”.

Cáceres began bombarding the North Korean routers on the servers he rented, sending multiple information packets and making data transmission very slow. To do this, the hacker exploited some vulnerabilities in North Korea’s digital infrastructure, which was very old and had many problems.

Cáceres believes the US government needs to take a more aggressive approach in the cyber arena. If North Korean hacker groups like Lazarus have stolen millions of dollars in cryptocurrencies in a single year, why aren’t they being attacked?

“Sometimes it can’t be done, I’m told, diplomatic relations have to be maintained. I say, this is North Korea, who cares?

“Others say that once revenge starts in cyberspace, it can never be stopped. But don’t be fooled, this gate has been open for a long time.

Author: Raul Nesoyu

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