Russia Falls Back on Its Own Internet Infrastructure

Russia Falls Back on Its Own Internet Infrastructure

Russia will also be isolated online. One of the largest internet backbone providers is withdrawing, but Russia itself will soon be using only Russian DNS providers, which is not the same as cutting oneself off the internet.


Cogent Communications, one of the largest internet backbone providers, is no longer working for Russian operators due to the invasion of Ukraine, the Washington Post reports. The company has among its customer’s provider Rustelecom, mobile operators MegaFon and Veon, as well as the search engine Yandex.

Players such as the American Cogent focus, among other things, on intercontinental connections. While the country has other internet backbone providers, the loss of one of the largest will likely result in slower connections.

At the same time, the government has announced a lot of obligations by Friday 11 March. The independent Belarusian news channel Nexta reports this on Twitter, among other things. Many interpret that as a complete disconnection from the internet, but that is not quite correct.

As far as is clear, the text calls for a new password for personal accounts with domain name registrars and to use two-step verification (2FA) where possible. Also, online players have to switch to DNS servers within Russia and remove all Javascript code of foreign origin from their pages. Public info must go to a .ru domain name. This mainly means that Russian sites and services are hardly allowed to sit on foreign infrastructure.

But that’s not the same as shutting down the internet. For example, internet traffic to sites outside Russia remains possible, although that traffic passes through local DNS providers. In addition, of course, Russian platforms are subject to censorship and regulation. So it is technically not a lockdown, but it does make censorship or cutting off access to certain services easier.

Although the approach seems to be mainly extra protection against cyber attacks or hackers, an exercise around this already took place in 2019. For example, Russia made a local copy of the DNS routing system, and it was checked whether the Russian Internet would easily digest such a switch. Even then, it mainly sounded that this exercise is necessary in order to be able to quickly shut itself off from the outside in the event of serious foreign cyber attacks.

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