Russia has its own Internet ready to avoid cyber attacks: the Runet experiment

After weeks of back-and-forth, proxy wars, the unthinkable and the most terrifying has happened today, because Russia has invaded Ukraine. The excuse of Vladimir Putin and his people is to “demilitarize” Ukraine, but this is a full-fledged invasion carried out by an emboldened Russia in the face of a Europe – today Putin has directly threatened the entire NATO – whose most energetic response has been the imposition of economic sanctions…

Cold War 2.0

Although it is not seen, because that is the grace, we have been involved in a Cold War 2.0 for a long time. ORa war in which the battlefronts are digital, the weapons are computer programs and the target is data. Data from other countries is the cryptocurrency in the National Defense of each country. Attacks like the one by Wannacry in 2016 and other more recent ones only show the reality we live in: one in which an entire country can be hacked from its basic infrastructures for the population even their military secrets. And for this reason, some like Russia have been taking really drastic measures for years.

Aware of what is at stake if it were hacked, Russia carried out an experiment in 2019 as ambitious as it was unprecedented: disconnect the entire country from the Internet. But not just government institutions or military installations, but every home, router, and server. A total and absolute closure of mother Russia to the Network of networks.

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Disconnect from the Internet, comrades

The reason? According la agecia rusa RosBiznesKonsalting (RBK) it was about test and at the same time ensure and demonstrate the independence of the Runet, the Russian Internet space. By shutting down the entire continent, both the Russian authorities and the country’s large Internet providers They will be able to see first-hand the effectiveness of the Runet, its communications and the degree of isolation.

Russian internet providers had to be able to ensure the independence of the Russian internet”in case of foreign aggression“, as outlined in a proposed law in the Russian Parliament last December. As if this were not enough, Russian telecommunications firms were forced to install “technical means” to redirect all Russian Internet traffic to a series of exchange points approved or managed by Roskomnadzor.

The main telecommunications agency in the country, Roskomnadzor, It has the power to inspect traffic, ban inappropriate content, and ensure that traffic between Russian users stays within the country, and is not redirected through outside servers that could be intercepted in the event of an external attack.

several years in development

The culmination of years of work, the Russian government has been working on the Runet experiment for a long time: in 2014 they tried a local backup of the DNS or Domain Name System, and in 2018 they tried it again. And it is that this backup is a crucial element of the Runet when the Network providers disconnect the entire country from the rest of the world.

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According to RBK, all the Russian operators agreed with the experiment, which had the 100% approval of Vladimir Putin. But what the providers were no longer in agreement with was the technical implementation of the project, since according to them they caused important interruptions to Russian Internet traffic. the russian government bears all the costs of modifying ISP infrastructures and install new servers to direct traffic to the Roskomnadzor.

The Runet Experiment, a success

All this is information from 2019. Did the experiment ever take place? Well, it was done, and it was just last year. According to a Reuters cable dated July 22,, Russia managed to disconnect from the global internet during the experiment carried out in June and July 2021, according to the RBC daily announcement citing documents from the working group tasked with improving Russia’s internet security.

The tests were carried out between June 15 and July 15, and they were successful, according to preliminary results. According to the source: “The objective of the tests is to determine the ability of the ‘Runet’ to function in the event of external distortions, blockages and other threats.”

Another RBC source said that the ability to physically disconnect the Russian part of the Internet was tested. It’s not clear how long the disconnection lasted or if there were any noticeable interruptions in Internet traffic. The funny thing is that Russian law stipulated that disconnection tests must be performed every year, a curious fact that says a lot about the intentions of the Russian government. But operations were suspended in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Karen Kazaryan, director of the analytics firm Internet Research Institute, said she did not expect Russia to launch a sovereign Internet in the near future, although “Given the general secrecy of the process and the lack of public documents on the subject, it is difficult to say what happened in these tests.”

Secrecy and slow down social networks

The Kremlin was aware of the tests, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, calling them timely and saying Russia had to be ready for anything. State communications regulator Roskomnadzor said the tests were aimed at improving the integrity, stability and security of Russia’s internet infrastructure, a very general way of describing that we’re basically talking about ALL Russian internet traffic, from press releases to news, videos from information agencies, purchase orders or private chats between users. All these data will be transferred to the Roskomnadzor servers.

The equipment installed as part of the tests has been used by Roskomnadzor to slow down the social network Twitter (TWTR.N) since March for failing to remove content that Moscow considers illegal.