Russia is planning to hold tests of “RuNet,” a national internet access system this week, that will see the country cut-off from global internet during the testing period.
Russia’s web will operate on an internal network isolated from the rest of the world. RuNet is intended to shield Russian communications from cyber-attacks from hackers from the US and UK, or in case Russia is denied international access owing to sanctions.
The country’s federal communications censorship agency, Roskomnadzor has already set up a center for monitoring and controlling general communications, and has begun installing corresponding equipment to kick-start the project starting November 1. It will be implemented fully from 2021.
"On Monday (October 28), the government approved the provision on conducting exercises to ensure the stable, safe and holistic functioning of the Internet and public communications networks in the Russian Federation," D-Russia reported.
"The exercises are [to be] held at the federal and regional levels."
Like many nations, much of Russia's internet access is still routed through so-called "exchange points" in the United States. Under new rules, Russia's telecoms firms would have to install "technical means" to re-route that traffic through national exchange points.
"The larger context is Russia’s dependence as a nation on imported/foreign hi-tech and the perceived vulnerabilities that Russia sees in such technology use," Russian expert at the American Foreign Policy Council Samuel Bendett told Defense One.
"With so many government, public, and private-sector nodes using such foreign tech, the Russian government is seeking to impose a measure of control over how Internet communication over this technology is conducted. In the event of what the government sees as outside influence affecting RuNet, the state can act — hence the annual exercise," Bendett explained.
According to D-Russia, Moscow plans to perform at least one of the tests a year for the foreseeable future.
“We will test it for several weeks. A technical assessment will be conducted initially- does it influence the traffic? does it not influence the traffic? do all services work properly?” Aleksandr Zharov, head of Roskomnadzor, was quoted as saying by TASS this September.
Large sections of Russia's internet could be shut off to test local emergency exchange points. Roskomnazor will reportedly monitor all traffic flowing through these points to make sure data is not being routed outside of Russia.