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Widespread Internet Outage Reported In North Korea

North Korea's Internet is offline — days after President Obama pledged a "proportional response" to the communist country's alleged hacking of Sony Pictures, multiple news reports say.

Doug Madory, the director of Internet analysis at Dyn Research, told The New York Times and other news organizations that North Korea's Internet access became unstable late Friday. By Monday, it was offline, he said.

San Francisco-based CloudFlare, a network and security company that monitors global Web access, told The Times that North Korea's Internet access was "toast."

It's unclear what caused the outage, but State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said today: "We aren't going to discuss publicly operational details about the possible response options or comment on those kind of reports in any way except to say that as we implement our responses, some will be seen, some may not be seen."

In an interview with NPR's Elise Hu, Matthew Prince, chief executive of CloudFlare, pointed to four possible scenarios: North Korea turned off its own Internet; China's upstream provider turned it off; the country's routers failed at an unfortunate time; or it was the result of a denial-of-service attack from either a hacking group or the U.S. Prince said he thinks it's unlikely the U.S. was behind the reported outage.

North Korea has one of the lowest Internet penetrations in the world — with access limited mostly to the country's elite. The U.S. has linked the recent hacking of Sony Pictures to North Korean hackers, though North Korea itself has denied it is responsible — even though it called the act righteous. (Some computer security experts have questioned whether Pyongyang is behind the hack.)

Threats against moviegoers and theaters attributed to the group that claimed responsibility for the hack were behind Sony's decision last week to cancel the planned Christmas Day release of The Interview, a comedy that centers on a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

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