Russian Telcos Consider Experimental Disconnection From Global Internet

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The exercise would allow telcos to simulate how their networks would function if Russia were cut off from the worldwide network

Russian telcos are considering briefly cutting the country off from the global internet in order to test proposed national security laws, according to local media reports.

The Information Security Working Group, which is made up of major telcos, recommended the experiment in order to test the provisions of the proposed Digital Economy National Programme, news agency RosBiznesKonsalting (RBK) reported.

The law, proposed in the Russian Pariament in December, is intended to ensure the ability of the internet to function within Russia even if the country were cut off from access to the global network.

It also proposes that all Russian data passing outside the country should eventually pass through government-controlled routing points, which would monitor it for unlawful content as well as ensuring traffic remains within Russia as much as possible.

Technical exercise

In a Working Group session at the end of January, telecoms companies including MegaFon, Beeline, MTS, Rostelecom and others said they supported the law but had misgivings over its implementation, which they said was technically impossible to implement in some regards.

They recommended carrying out a practical exercise that would simulate Russia being disconnected to the external internet, in order to study the effects this would have on their networks.

“The methods of (the law’s) implementation have not yet been precisely defined,” said Natalya Kaspersky, co-founder of Moscow-based IT security firm Kaspersky Lab, who chairs the Working Group.

“Therefore, they came to the conclusion that market participants need to organise exercises or something similar in order to understand how this can all be implemented in practice.”

The tests would need to be carried out in advance of a 1 April deadline for submitting amendments to the proposed law.

Denial of service

Email services firm and search company Yandex also supported the tests, reported.

Russian authorities have said they want to route 95 percent of internet traffic within the country by 2020.

A proposed bill would also mean that Russia would maintain copies of DNS data within the country in case of disconnection from the root servers operating elsewhere.

The network sovereignty law would enable Russia to disconnect the country from the global internet in case of attack, RBK said.

The provisions of the law would make it possible, for instance, to disconnect from the global internet if it were necessary to do so to stop a major denial-of-service attack.

The Russian internet would then continue to function normally during the disconnection, RBK reported an unnamed source as saying.