Published: Tue, February 12, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Russian Federation may unplug from the internet to test its cyberdefenses

Russian Federation may unplug from the internet to test its cyberdefenses

That's according to Russian news agency RosBiznesKonsalting, which made the announcement last week.

Roskomnazor, Russia's telecom watchdog, will monitor all traffic flowing through these points to make sure data is not being routed outside of Russia.

It requires Russia's Internet providers to stay functional in the event the country gets cut off from worldwide internet.

There's no official date for when this move might take place, but the BBC reports that it would likely occur before April 1. Natalya Kaspersky, Director of Russian cyber-security firm InfoWatch, and co-founder of Kaspersky Lab, presides over the group, which also includes major Russian telcos such as MegaFon, Beeline, MTS, RosTelecom, and others.

The Russian government has been working on the complex cyber defense tactic for several years.

Russia has tried, so far with extremely limited success, to block Telegram, a popular encrypted messaging service, but its use continues to be widespread, including among some senior Russian government officials who are reported to use VPNs to circumvent the ban.

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In the short term the planned disconnection is largely meant to assuage the fears of domestic internet service providers that the draft legislation could impose huge costs on them and harm the reliability of the Russian internet.

The test is being carried out as Russian Federation faces numerous sanctions threats from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and others over its alleged use of cyber-hacking tactics in global espionage.

The proposed law, fully endorsed by President Putin, is expected to pass.

"The new bill introduces the next degree of strict regulatory standards in regard to the infrastructure of the Runet", he said, adding that the new measures would allow the government to gain control over traffic exchange points and cross-border internet traffic transitions.

"Theoretically, the U.S has the ability to cut off Russia's Internet connectivity from outside, but there is no precedent to trace worldwide", said the team leader of Ru-center, one of Russia's largest domain name registrars and hosting providers. This is similar to the Great Firewall of China, but with the ability to maintain independence with an isolated intranet if needed.

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