Russian news agency RosBiznesKonsalting (RBK) recently reported that the country is likely to briefly disconnect itself from the global internet in the coming months to test the effectiveness of its cyber defenses.
This news follows a proposed law introduced in the Russian Parliament in December 2018 named the Digital Economy National Program. This draft law requires Russian ISPs to ensure that they would be able to operate independently in the event of foreign aggression causing the country to become disconnected from the rest of the internet.
A date for the test is yet to be confirmed but it is reportedly set to take place before April 1, as this is the deadline for any amendments to the new law to be submitted.
Russian news sites reported that although ISPs are for the most part in support of the proposed law, there is some division regarding its technical implementation. There is concern that the test will cause “major disruptions” to Russian internet traffic, according to an article published by ZDNet.
The new law would involve Russia building its own DNS system, so it would be able to operate even if the links to its current international servers were cut. 12 different organizations currently maintain the root DNS servers and none of them are located within the country.
In theory, the test will allow ISPs to demonstrate that they can direct data between internal, government-controlled routing points. These will filter the web traffic to ensure that no Russian data is routed outside of the country to foreign servers, where it could potentially be compromised.
Roskomnadzor, Russia’s communications regulator, will be inspecting all of the web traffic that passes through these points to ensure prohibited content remains blocked. The Russian government will be providing ISPs with financial aid to enable them to update their infrastructure as needed.
If the test goes as planned, the government eventually wants to send all domestic traffic through these routing points. This would make it a very similar system to the one currently used in China, known as the Great Firewall, which attempts to filter out any prohibited content.
The Russian government is believed to have been working on this project for a number of years, and reportedly hopes to route 95% of all internet traffic locally by 2020. The Digital Economy National Program is fully endorsed by President Vladimir Putin and expected to become law in the very near future.