The official North Korean accounts on the social(ist) (sorry) media sites Twitter and Flickr have looked a little odd recently – the reason being that the hacking community Anonymous have managed to break into them and change the content just a little.
And according to some media pundits, the hack is bad, bad, bad news for the South Koreans who should be running for the bomb shelters.
True or false?
Well, let’s take a quick look at the evidence. For example, I’m pretty sure this picture from the North Korean Flickr account is from Anonymous:
Tweets on the North’s Twitter account said “Hacked” – instead of the usual steady stream of praise for the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un.
While some parts of the Internet have been smirking at the lulz – certain parts of the news media have been lashing out at Anonymous, claiming the collectives’ actions brings international armed conflict that much closer.
One of those worried about the (nuclear) fall-out in the wake of the hacks is Huffington Post’s Doug Olenick.
“I don’t think I am overstating the situation when I say lives could have been lost by this bit of online tomfoolery,” he says in a recent blog piece on Huffington.com.
He then goes on to stipulate that the hacking of North Korea’s official Twitter and Flickr accounts might be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back, making North Korea launch missiles or fire cannons at South Korea – or other perceived enemies.
“Exactly what would it take to push Kim Jong Un over the edge and decide to further up the ante? Perhaps a small bit of international embarrassment?,” he asks, rhetorically.
Doug Olenick goes on to say that North Korea ‘routinely attacks its southerly neighbour’ and that Anonymous’ attack came at a ‘a particularly inopportune time’ because of the current tension in the region.
If you look at the list of attacks by North Korea on South Korea, you see that they certainly live up to the following definition of routinely: ‘A prescribed, detailed course of action to be followed regularly; a standard procedure.’
However, as Doug Olenick as admits in his blog piece, the attacks are usually carried out to ‘extract concessions from others’.
So on one hand Olenick is saying that Anonymous have struck a blow against a volatile regime at a really, really bad time. The defacing of Twitter and Flickr might, in other words, push it over the edge and see it launch a spontaneous attack on South Korea.
To prove this is a likely scenario, he refers us to the fact that North Korea have a history of attacking South Korea, and then tells us that these attacks are always premeditated and carried out in order to get something from someone.
So it’s a bad time for the cyber attacks, because North Korea are almost always about to launch attacks on South Korea, and the cyber attacks might push North Korea into launching a spontaneous attack on a country they routinely carry out premeditated attacks on?
Apart from this – seemingly faulty – logic, my big(gest) problem with a piece like this is that it should be in the dictionary as the definition of the pot calling the kettle black.
Because if North Korea and Kim Jong Un are really that easily swayed, then what is more likely to make him press the big red button, labelled ‘fire’? A cyber attack defacing something that only a few people in his country actually has access to (The official North Korean Twitter account has something like 13000 follows – and my guess would be that most of those live in the US), or international media companies going on about how an attack like this damages his reputation or how he, based on prior evidence, is likely to launch an attack in order to gain something?
Companies that he knows his entire diplomatic corps and military leaders will be tuned in to.
I mean, if he actually saw the Flickr picture above (which was more than likely kept far, far from Kin Jong Un by people who will have been afraid of what would happen to them and their families should the great leader actually see it), then what? More likely than not, he’d be thinking about actually getting that tattoo of Mickey Mouse…
And when talking about bad timing – then what about the Arab Spring? Wasn’t that people inside and outside various countries using social media to generate regime change at a time where the actions might have triggered a country like Libya to launch attacks on its neighbours?
It might be a weak argument, but I’m happy being the kettle if Doug Olenick and other voices in the media landscape will own up to being (crack) pots….