Coronavirus Postpones Russia’s Sovereign Internet Test

A test designed to improve the ability of Russia’s domestic internet infrastructure to cope with being cut off from the global network was postponed due to the coronavirus crisis, the Communications Ministry said on Friday, according to TASS.

The test, planned for Thursday, had been aimed at developing ways to block certain types of encrypted web traffic, the state-run news agency said.

“Planned exercises were postponed due to the strengthening of measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus infection,” the ministry was quoted as saying.

A revised schedule for the drills would be approved soon, it said.

Russia began testing its internet infrastructure in December after President Vladimir Putin signed what became known as the “sovereign internet” law. That, Moscow said, was a response to what it called an aggressive cybersecurity strategy adopted by the United States.

The law aimed to route Russia’s web traffic and data through points controlled by state authorities and to build a national Domain Name System.

The internet is the country’s main forum for political debate and opposing voices as well as coordinating opposition demonstrations. The new system is set to go online in 2021.

Internet providers need to ensure before that time that their networks have the technical means for “centralized traffic control” to counter potential threats.

The main providers have already begun installing the required equipment including Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) which would allow Russia’s Roskomnadzor internet watchdog to analyze and filter traffic.

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