World Media

Russian Federation tests 'local' internet that does not depend on root NS authorities

Oleg Yakovlev  RBC  TASS

Russia's telecoms would have to re-route the country's internet traffic to exchange points approved by Russian telecom watchdog Roskomnazor so it can block prohibited content and ensure traffic doesn't pass through foreign servers, CNET sister site ZDNet reported Monday.

For years, western countries have pointed to Russia as the likely offender in various hacks, and cyber attacks attributed to the Russian government earned the country sanctions, as well as promises from Western governments to improve their cyber defenses.

Proponents say the so-called "sovereign Internet" bill aims to make what they call the Russian segment of the Internet - known as the Runet - more independent.

Currently, 12 organisations oversee the root servers for DNS and none of them are in Russian Federation.

The bill calls for the creation of a system that would protect Russian Federation in the event of a cyberwar while also filtering Internet traffic to the country, but there has been debate about how realistic that is and how much it would cost.

There is no exact date for the test but it's expected to be carried out before April 1.

The draft legislation would allow Moscow effectively to turn off the external internet - sites and services based on servers overseas - and filter traffic, while the Russian internet functioned autonomously.

The plan is also believed to be part of an effort to set up a mass censorship system akin to that seen in China, the report added.

Ostensibly the goal of the legislation is to protect the Russian internet from the United States, which has an offensive cybersecurity strategy and lists Russia as one of the major sources of hacking attacks. It is essentially a series of thousands of digital networks along which information travels.

The proposed law, fully endorsed by President Putin, is expected to pass. Finding the proper technical methods to disconnect Russian Federation from the internet with minimal downtime to consumers and government agencies is still being discussed.

It proposes creating a centre to "ensure and control the routing of internet traffic" and requires that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) install "technical measures to withstand threats".

It is possible to get around some firewalls using virtual private networks (VPNs) - which disguise the location of a computer so the filters do not kick in - but some regimes are more tolerant of them than others. The bill's authors claim that Russia's internet will be protected in the event of a cyber-attack as the country will now have a self-contained internet infrastructure.