Toronto, February 12: Moscow is making plans to disconnect the country from the world-wide-web as part its plans to test the country’s cyber defences in the event of an attack or retaliation from the West (U.S. and allies).
The test of ‘no net connectivity’, set to happen sometime before April, is to ensure the independence of Russian internet space (Runet) and check that it continues to operate even if links to global servers are down.
The move comes after Moscow introduced a new law that allows the setting up of the Digital Economy National Programme. It was first introduced in the Russian parliament in December 2018. 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. Part of the plan also involves Russia building its own version of the Domain Name System (DNS) – an address book of the internet.
The test will see the Runet disconnected from the global internet for a few hours, according to Russian news agency Ros Biznes Konsalting. The test scheduled to happen before April 1, is basically to see if the system which has been set up, will filter traffic so that data sent between Russians reaches its destination, but any destined for foreign computers is discarded.
The Runet is managed by Russia's telecommunications regulator Roskomnazor and is hence being called a mass surveillance system similar to the Great Firewall of China.
The move comes as the U.S. has passed sanctions on multiple Russian nationals accusing them of waging a cyber-war against American interests. The UK too identified a campaign in October 2018 that was allegedly carried out by the Russian military intelligence service GRU against British interests. In response, the UK joined previous calls by NATO to take an "offensive defence" against Russia-backed cyber-attacks.