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“Russia formalizes the digital territory of the Russian Federation”

Vladimir Putin's regime has just carried out tests that could allow it to digitally cut itself off from the world. Their goal: “regain control of infrastructure in the event of contamination”, says on Franceinfo Nicolas Arpagian, cybersecurity expert.

Russia says it has successfully tested its Internet “sovereign”, equipment that should allow the country to isolate its Internet from global servers, and thus guarantee its functioning in the event of cyberwarfare, for example.

“Russia formalizes the digital territory of the Russian Federation”, says Friday December 27 on Franceinfo Nicolas Arpagian, cybersecurity expert and author of Cybersecurity at the Presses Universitaires de France (PUF).

franceinfo: How does this sovereign Internet work?

Nicolas Arpagian: It is a technical isolation. Up until now, we have filtered websites and accesses to information and data. There, it is an infrastructure control, which was structured by a law adopted last fall, which came into force on November 1, 2019. The idea is to apply state sovereignty. The State is a right which is exercised over a population gathered in a territory. Russia formalizes the digital territory of the Russian Federation, considering that it must be able to control the security, the sustainability in a way, of this Internet, by making sure to divert the Internet connections towards equipment controlled by the administration Russian.

What is the purpose of this “sovereign” Internet?

The goal, in fact, is to regain control of infrastructure, in the event of large-scale contamination for example, of a pandemic if we make the analogy with the medical world. The point is to say that if a cyber attack came from abroad, we could sort of disconnect. It is to show that the Russian digital economy, Russian communications, could be controlled by the State, since in the law on the sovereignty of Internet, one grants the power of disconnection without need of precise justification, in the name of “national security”, an extremely broad concept. It means making power, at one time, to cut, to filter. It becomes a gigantic Intranet, a bit like in a business: the digital management is able to know the use of what each of their computers does, can cut off the access of some to certain sites … It becomes an internal tool mastered from start to finish. This work has started since 2015. Since then, Russia has been testing technical solutions, so that it can scale up to a gigantic country, with extremely complex technical infrastructures. We do not yet have details on the technical details, since a presentation is planned for President Putin in early 2020, so as to make the nature of this organization more public.

We see these technologies developing in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia … Will it be one of the major subjects of the global Internet in the coming years?

It is the desire to extend sovereignty in the digital sphere, in cyberspace. Up to now, on their routes, their air and maritime spaces, the States consider duty and to be able to exercise their sovereignty. They want it to be the case in cyberspace. The only thing is that as much Russia has companies, social networks and search engines of Russian gasoline, created by Russian entrepreneurs and the private sector, as much here it is a question of taking the hand on the infrastructure so as not to be dependent on actions carried out by foreign countries.

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