Russia considers brief switch-off from global internet to test defences

Russia is considering whether to disconnect from the global internet briefly, as part of a test of its cyber-defences.

The test will mean data passing between Russian citizens and organisations stays inside the nation rather than being routed internationally. A draft law mandating technical changes needed to operate independently was introduced to its parliament last year.

The test is expected to happen before 1 April but no exact date has been set. As part of the experiment, communications oversight agency Roskomnadzor would examine whether data transmitted between Russia’s users can remain in the country without being rerouted to servers abroad, where it could be subjected to interception. The exercise follows aspirations of building an autonomous Internet infrastructure with the support of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian lawmakers backed tighter Internet controls on Tuesday to defend against foreign meddling in draft legislation that critics warn could disrupt Russia’s Internet and be used to stifle dissent.

The bill seeks to route Russian web traffic and data through points controlled by state authorities and proposes building a national Domain Name System to allow the Internet to continue functioning even if the country is cut off from foreign infrastructure.

The legislation was drafted in response to what its authors describe as an aggressive new U.S. national cyber security strategy passed last year.

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