Can Russia really disconnect from the global internet?

Since 2019, Russia has been looking for an opportunity to isolate its telecommunications network from the global Internet. In the summer of 2021, while the Russian troops are concentrated around the borders of Ukraine, after conducting cutting exercises related to the invasion of its neighbor, the main maneuvers around Ukraine digitaldigital it always happens. Last August, other separation exercises were carried out to test whether Runet could operate independently.

Russian media in a long article Kommersant brings up again the possibility of the country’s grid becoming disconnected from the gridInternetInternet for national security reasons, it reminds us of what the various exercises conducted around the world and over the past three years have taught us. Last August, tests were conducted with more actors than in previous periods. This was, among other things, to achieve partial isolation of some large Russian services from the rest of the Internet.

It was about RuTube, a platform diffusiondiffusion from the video flowflow is the equivalent in Russian YoutubeYoutube. For Internet users, the consequences of this disconnection remained invisible. For the authorities, the test made it possible to verify that it was possible ” He physically blocked the Russian part of the Internet and to confront cyber attackscyber attacks.

Key annual tests for a sovereign Internet

These annual exercises are carried out after the adoption of the law on the implementation of the sovereign Runet in 2019. It forces telecom players to test whether their systems remain stable in the event of an outage from the rest of the world. And above all, from 1er From January 2021, telecom operators are obliged to use only Russian domains. An event that remains progressive and actually begins on March 11.

It is also required for businesses to opt out of external hosting platforms. according to Kommersant, these obligations are not really effective, as the fine in case of violation is less than 80 euros. However, by implementing Russian DNS, the ultimate idea is to block access to all sites with a .ru domain for the rest of the world. Their internal input will be optimized later.

Impossible total disconnection

According to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernychenko, if the Russian authorities have stepped up training this year, it is mainly due to cyber attacks against Russia, which will increase by 80% in 2022. According to him, more than 25,000 cyber-attacks against government departments and 1,200 incidents against critical infrastructure have been prevented.

Last March (read our article below), Futura already mentioned the potential disconnection of Runet from the rest of the Internet. Now it seems that the authorities were on the verge of starting this process. Article by Kommersant emphasizes that if such a decision were to be made, the cut would not be general. Only connections to Europe will be cut and traffic will then be diverted to Asia. In any case, this is the plan of the main operator of the telecommunications network, Rostelecom.

But as we noted in March, the disconnect is not only about the Russian authorities. L’American Cogent Communication, Russia’s second-largest internet infrastructure provider, has been shut down for months. It is the decision aimed at directing attacks from Russia. Likewise London Internet Exchange One of Europe’s main Internet access points (LINX) has voluntarily disconnected its Russian operators.

But for Russian experts, the separation of Runet from the global Internet could be counterproductive for both Russian and foreign intelligence services. In addition, this disconnection, by “rerouting” to bypass Russia, could have a strong impact on traffic, as several Asian countries are connected to the global network. through Russian network. It is for this reason that the Russian Federation will undoubtedly prefer to tighten access by blocking rather than a total cut.

War in Ukraine: Will Russia soon be disconnected from the Internet?

Russia has begun maneuvers that could allow it to disconnect its network from the global Internet for “national security reasons,” particularly to combat cyberattacks and alleged disinformation on its territory. Even the deadline was mentioned. The war in Ukraine and the sanctions it imposed against it would allow it to implement Runet, whose sovereignty has been established by law since 2019.

Article posted by Sylvain Biget on March 7, 2022

There is a kinetic war with the violence of images and sounds, there is a quieter digital war. The cyber attack front remains less and less talked about, but supported. The digital weapon in Ukraine also means maintaining an active internet connection for the population, armies and institutions thanks to the deployment of a network of Starlink satellites. Elon MuskElon Musk. There is also an information war over the shutdown of Facebook in Russia. TwitterTwitter, TikTokTikTok and many other digital companies and especially netflixnetflix.

More than services, the position has been changing very rapidly in the last few days on the side of Internet infrastructure. According to documents collected and released by Belarusian media Nexta, Russia is in the process of disconnecting its network from the global Internet. And it’s not in the realm of the impossible, because Futura already explained last August that from June 15 to July 15, 2021, Russia conducted an exercise to disconnect from the Internet, which it calls Runet. And knowing what the exercises could be, there is reason to worry… This intention of Russia is not new. Back in 2019, Russia decided to have the ability to isolate its telecommunications network from the global internet for reasons of national security. This is the opportunity to come to him, and according to Next, the fateful date may be after March 11. Before this deadline, all servers and domains must migrate to the Russian network. It is for this reason that a lot of traffic has been detected at the DNS level for several weeks. Everything should be reassigned to Russian DNS servers as well as to “.ru” domain names. After the resources are returned to Russia, the Russian telecommunications police, Roskomnadzor, is responsible for monitoring data passing through the network and managing the exchange points.

Belarus’ Nexta news agency has published documents showing the Kremlin’s intention to disconnect the Russian network from the global Internet after March 11. © Twitter

A break for better censorship?

Specifically, this does not mean that Russia will no longer have access to the global Internet, but that it will monitor its own network to prevent cyberattacks and facilitate content monitoring. It can block certain traffic or even all of it. But just as international sanctions have isolated Russia, this internet shutdown may ultimately come from the West. So, according to the Reuters agency, American Cogent Communication, the second internet infrastructure provider in Russia, is already cutting internet services to Russian customers. For its part, Kogent told Reuters that the move helps counter cyberattacks or disinformation emanating from Russia. A difficult decision, because disconnecting means leaving the Russian population exposed only to Kremlin-sanctioned information. It is clear that, as usual, since the outbreak of tensions, then invasions, Russia, in turn, has officially emphasized that there are no plans to disconnect Runet from the global Internet.

Runet: Russia disconnects its network from the Internet

Russia has announced that it has conducted a series of tests to disconnect its telecommunications network from the global Internet until July 15. Some unsettling tests that show the Kremlin’s desire to build a truly sovereign internet.

Article published by Sylvain Biget on 01/08/2021

No one in Russia would know it, but the country would shut down global internet connections during the tests, which will take place between June 15 and July 15. This is explained in some detail by the economic diary RBC Daily In an article dated July 21. Therefore, the tests are strangely ignored by both Russian Internet users and the rest of the global network. However, they would involve all the operators in the country. Even if it is hard to believe that it will be completely disconnected from the network for a long time, the Kremlin therefore had to test the ability of Runet – the name of the Russian telecommunications network – to disconnect from the Internet. it does so. On the other hand, with the success of these “tests”, the Kremlin is trying to demonstrate that the country is capable of isolating its telecommunications network from the global Internet in order to achieve the goal set by the “Internet Sovereignty” law. This law, passed by parliament in March 2019, gives the government the power to disconnect Runet from the global network for national security reasons.

Runet: the border of language

The official argument would be to protect the country from cyber-attacks, cyber-espionage and foreign influence, especially American influence. But for opponents of the regime, this global blackout will also result in increased surveillance of Russian internet users.

This is not the first time that Russia has claimed to have disconnected its network from the global internet. The country has already carried out its first disconnection test in 2019. Another experiment was canceled last year. pandemicpandemic of coronaviruscoronavirus. Whether or not it is cut off from the global Internet, the real border between Runet and the global Internet is already the border of language, albeit through the use of Cyrillic letters. It is for this reason that many Russian speakers use their own tools, such as the Yandex search engine or the VKontakte social network, instead of American platforms.

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