In late December, just a few days after the U.S. government accused North Korea of being behind the hack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, North Korea’s sole connection to the Internet was disrupted for nine and a half hours.
At the time, there was speculation that the American government might be behind the action, especially as President Barack Obama had promised retaliation, but it was equally possible that a third-party group or technical problems were to blame. After all, it was far from the first time that North Korea’s Internet connection has gone down.
Now, we may have an answer.
Michael McCaul, a Republican representative for Texas, said last week that the outage was reprisal for the Sony hack.
“There were some cyber responses to North Korea,” McCaul said during remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.
Bloomberg News reports that he was asked afterwards if the North Korean Internet outage was one of the cyber responses he mentioned, and he said yes. But he didn’t say if the U.S. was the perpetrator.
McCaul is in a position to know. He’s chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Over the weekend, Fox News scored an interview with CIA director John Brennan and asked him about this.
But Brennan, as you might expect, didn’t have much to say either way. As is typical of the CIA, the agency didn’t want to confirm or deny anything.
Here’s the transcript of the relevant part of the interview, which was conducted by reporter Chris Wallace:
WALLACE: Speaking of mastering that domain, was the U.S. behind the massive Internet outage in North Korea last December after the hacking of Sony?
BRENNAN: The North Korean system is fraught with a number of sort of challenges, because it is a country that, unfortunately, has put its pursuit of military capabilities in front of what the best interests are of the people.
And so, there is an infrastructure there that is rickety, there are challenges that they face on a technical front. So there are a lot of reasons why the North Korean people and the Internet system out there has problems.
WALLACE: Did the U.S. give a little shake to the rickety North Korean system?
BRENNAN: I’m not going to address anything that we may have done in that instance, and I’m not acknowledging anything at all here. What I’m saying is —
WALLACE: But you’re not denying it either?
BRENNAN: You can raise any question about what might happen worldwide, or I’m not either going to confirm nor deny it.