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19 Sep, 2014 07:50

Russia won’t disconnect from global internet, works on cyber security – Kremlin

Russia won’t disconnect from global internet, works on cyber security – Kremlin

Media reports that Russia is considering disconnecting from the global internet are false, Dmitry Peskov, presidential press-secretary, said. But the country is working to improve cyber security due to the unpredictable behavior of the West, he added.

“Russia’s disconnection from the global internet is of course out of the question,” Peskov told the Interfax news agency, adding that such a possibility has never been considered.

However, he stressed that “recently, a fair share of unpredictability is present in the actions of our partners both in the US and the EU, and we [Russia] must be prepared for any turn of events.”

“We all know who the chief administrator of the global internet is. And due to its volatility, we have to think about how to ensure our national security,”
Vladimir Putin’s press-secretary said.

When asked if Russia is developing the means to improve its cyber security, Peskov replied by saying: “We’re working on such measures, they are being looked at.”

It’s not about disconnecting Russia from the World Wide Web, but about “protecting it from possible external influence,” he concluded.

Russia’s communications minister, Nikolay Nikiforov, also denied claims that the authorities are thinking about cutting ties with the global internet.

“Recently, Russia is being addressed in a language of unilateral sanctions: first, our credit cards are being cut off; then the European Parliament says that they’ll disconnect us from SWIFT. In these circumstances, we are working on a scenario where our esteemed partners would suddenly decide to disconnect us from the internet,” the minister told the RIA Novosti news agency.

Nikiforov also said that a joint exercise by the Ministry of Communications, the Defense Ministry and Federal Security Service was held in order to prepare for such a turn of events.

Earlier on Friday, Vedomosti newspaper cited a number of unnamed security and industry sources, which said the Russian authorities are considering the possibility of making the Russian sector of the net independent.

The paper alleged that the issue will be discussed at several closed-door events in the days to come, including a national Security Council session on Monday next week.

However, Peskov told the Interfax news agency that no Security Council session is even planned for next week.

Vedomosti’s source has said that Russia wants to control and mitigate the potential damage of a confrontation in cyberspace. Particularly, it wants the ‘runet’ - the Russian part of the internet - to be able to operate independently from the rest of the world in case of emergency, the newspaper cites a security source as saying.

The goal is not to have ‘an internet of its own’, like North Korea’s. It’s also not about being able to shut down electronic communications in Russia in the face of massive riots, as Turkey and Egypt recently did, although such an option would be welcomed, the report said.

Rather it is to ensure that if the US government uses its emergency powers to cut Russian IP addresses from service, then backup servers would be ready to step in. Back in 2012, US President Barack Obama signed an executive order allowing him to take control of all communications on American soil, including those crucial for the normal operation of the internet.

The US reportedly once actually cut a country off the internet. According to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the agency unintentionally caused an internet blackout in Syria in November 2012 when it was trying to install spyware on one of the core routers.

Possible measures, including a government take-over of the .ru and .рф domain name registrar, come amid Russia’s frustration with lack of progress in making ICANN, the chief internet protocol and domain name system body, less dependent on the United States. For years Moscow has been campaigning to give ICANN’s job to an organization working under the United Nations.