Russia denies preparing to deploy Russian ‘splinter net’

The Russian government has ordered sites and domains to switch to a DNS server on Russian territory before March 11, 2022. With the possible use of the protected Russian .ru zone, the country can separate itself from the worldwide internet. However, the Kremlin denies that it is preparing itself to isolate the Russian internet from the rest of the world.

The Russian Ministry of Communications has issued a message stating that all Russian sites and domains must use a DNS server on Russian territory. A DNS server is like a telephone book for the Internet. This way your browser knows with which IP address it should communicate when you type ‘vpngids.nl’.

In addition, Russian sites should also remove all Javascript codes of non-Russian origin. According to Nexta and other media, these steps appear to be preparation for the deployment of the Russian ‘splinter net’.

Defensive Measures

According to Interfax, the Russian government says that these are simply measures that should better protect Russian websites and domains against a large number of cyberattacks from abroad. The main goal would be to ensure the accessibility of Russian resources for Russian citizens on the Internet.

Several activist hacker collectives such as Anonymous and the IT Army of Ukraine have been carrying out attacks on Russian banks, services, and government websites since the war broke out in Ukraine.

Russian ‘splinter net’

Still, the rumors are not unfounded, because in 2019 Russia already tested whether it was possible to cut Russia off from the rest of the internet. Although Russia reported at the time that the test had been successful, Sarkis Darbinian of RoskomSvoboda – an anti-internet censorship platform – says the measures should initially protect Russia against cyber-attacks and sanctions by domain registrars and hosting providers.

He estimates the chance of the arrival of the Russian sovereign internet at fifty-fifty: “The question is whether we will be closed off from within, or whether this is already happening from the outside”. Either way, if the system is implemented, “Russia will be plunged into a digital darkness.”

Should the internet actually be physically disconnected, a VPN and using the Tor network will no longer help either. In the meantime, Darbinian advises Russians to use as many means of communication as Tor, or Psiphon and VPN services as possible to keep unfiltered contact with the outside world.

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