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Is Russia Isolating From Global Internet? Not Yet

It is possible that Russia is isolating itself from the global internet. The country’s potential digital isolation is making rounds on the internet after documents leaked that suggested that Russia could be distancing itself from the global network of the internet.

The document in concern is a letter from Russia’s deputy digital minister, Andrei Chernenko. The letter leaked on Monday, March 07, seemed to be an order from him asking Russia’s state-owned websites and online portals to fortify their security by Friday, March 11th.

What does the letter contain?

The letter issued an order to state-owned sites and online portals to switch their hosting to domestic services. Intriguingly, it also asked them to clear off JavaScript from the pages downloaded from foreign sources.

International media outlets have especially focused on switching DNS servers to Russian services. DNS is a system through which computers identify each other on the internet. It is like a phonebook for computers.

Shifting domains to Russian-based servers mean the websites will ostracize themselves from global internet space. But does it really mean Russia is detaching itself from the international internet network?

No Plans!

Andrei Chernenko, the deputy digital minister whose letter sparked the rumors has played down the suggestions. He said Russia has “no plans” to keep away from the global internet. He said that the intention in the letter was to protect Russian websites from possible cyber breaches.

Fortune quotes Alena Epifanova, a Russian cyber-policy expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations that the reasoning is credible. Since the invasion of Russia into Ukraine, both countries have exchanged cyber attacks on each others’ systems. And Epifanova said, “To me, it looks like a normal, reasonable document against the cyberattacks which we observe.”

Ukraine has found a volunteer group ‘IT army’ that is actively infiltrating Russian cyberspace. There are structured campaigns to target Russian cyberspace, the Russian president, and his consortiums. Likewise, in Ukraine instances of internet outages have emerged. To address disconnections, Elon Musk has switched on Starlink satellites to offer internet service in some areas for the moment.

Meanwhile, Russia has recently limited TikTok, banned Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, PayPal. It comes as part of limiting American online services which could misinform the public on its ongoing invasion into Ukraine.  

Check out: Huawei develop 5G for MTS in Russia

Russia disconnecting from Global Internet? Not yet

Switching DNS servers to own domain names doesn’t equate to staying away from the global internet. Epifanova says the country has had a plan in 2019 to implement the Russian DNS by 2021. But it hasn’t happened yet.

She adds that in fact, Russian ISPs have not shifted to Russian DNS even though they are having to pay fines. Reason? Switching away from global DNS causes disruptions and the system they

However, the theory of Russia going away from the global internet could rather get backing from foreign sources. Ukraine has called on ICAAN, the US-based group responsible for global DNS to disconnect Russia from its system. It even went on asking it to invalidate domains such as ‘.ru’. But the request drew a negative. ICANN stated that it was to “ensure that the internet works, not for its coordination role to be used to stop it from working.”

Russia is still not prepared to decouple itself from the global internet completely,” Epifanova maintains. “The whole Russian economy is based on the global internet. She states that if Russia indeed separates itself from the global internet system, there could be a “major collapse in the Russian economy.”

Check out: NTA plans high-speed internet for local elections

So despite the hostilities Russia is facing at the moment, it has no plans to shut its cyberspace from the global internet at least for now. What scenario do you conjure if countries begin isolating themselves from the global internet? Will the internet change forever from the way it is? You can illustrate your conjurings in the comments below.

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