Russia Will 'Unplug' From Internet to Test Cyberdefenses, Censorship

Sergio Conner
February 12, 2019

The test was set in motion under a draft law, called the Digital Economy National Program, introduced by Russian Federation past year.

Russian authorities and major internet providers are planning to disconnect the country from the internet as part of a planned experiment, Russian news agency RosBiznesKonsalting (RBK) reported last week.

Russian Federation is considering a plan to disconnect from the internet temporarily in order to determine how its cyber-defenses would fare in case of foreign aggression.

In addition to being able to disconnect from the broader Internet, the proposed law also requires ISPs to install equipment to reroute all Russian traffic through the Roskomnazor, the government body that is responsible for censorship and tracking the online activities of Russian citizens.

In particular, politicians are anxious that Western accusations of Russian hacking could lead to retaliatory cyberattacks and are trying to develop a way to isolate the Russian internet.

Internet providers in Russia are preparing to conduct exercises that will help the nation build a path toward possible internet independence, according to Russian news reports.

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Supporters say the proposal is necessary in case Russian Federation was to be cut off from the global internet, but opponents fear the measure would lead to widespread censorship.

Russia's response comes as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries announced several times that they were mulling a stronger response to cyber attacks, of which Russian Federation is constantly accused of carrying out. But it also is meant to test if all Russian internet traffic can be gathered and routed through a few points controlled by government sources.

The draft Digital Economy National Program would see Russian Federation establish its own version of the net's address system, called a DNS, that would allow the country to remain online if it got cut off from worldwide servers.

The outage will take place before April 1, although an official date has yet to be released, the BBC reports.

Finanz.ru also reported that local internet services Mail.ru and Yandex.ru were also supportive of the test disconnection.

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