Russia without: Internet, Anonymity, VPN, Crypto

Publication date: 21 Sep 2021

Russian laws concerning the security or control of online events continue to change.  The authorities have set a clear course: ISPs must be accredited, companies must join the National Domain Names System, and the future of cryptocurrency is increasingly complicated. So, what’s coming for us?

Russia without the Internet and Anonymity

In September 2021, Bellingcat expert Hristo Grozev said that Russia was preparing to reduce the speed for the foreign Internet segment. According to him, the planned accreditation of hosting providers will lead to this.

The analyst said that the Russian authorities already have a plan to introduce accreditation of hosting providers. As a result, those companies that will pass the accreditation, will have to disclose detailed information about every client, including all SSL-sessions and IP-addresses, to the control authorities. In this way, all possibilities for anonymity on the Internet will be closed.  In other words, there will be no more anonymity on the Internet.

Hosting providers who are unwilling or unable to pass accreditation, will be limited in speed. Even global giants such as YouTube or Twitter will be affected. In as little as two years, connection speed might drop to 24kbps. Let us remind you that this was the speed at which the Internet was connected via telephone in the 1990s.

Russia without a VPN connection

Roskomnadzor continues to systematically cut off opportunities to access the blocked websites. Within Russia, the regulator is banning foreign Internet protocols that hide website names.

In September 2021, Roskomnadzor sent out notifications to state-owned companies asking them to check whether they were using encryption protocols to help with hiding website names. The notifications referred to the DoH service used by Google and Mozilla browsers, as well as DNS servers that guarantee secure connections to web portals in Google and CloudFlare.

Based on previous practice, such notifications are sent out by Roskomnadzor on the eve of the restriction of the corresponding systems’ operation.

DoH technology allows the encryption of requests that the user of the device sends to the provider’s DNS server when opening a website. Consequently, if the user connects DoH, the ISP cannot see the domain name of the target site. This makes it difficult to block access to resources banned by Roskomnadzor.

As an alternative, the regulator has suggested companies switch to the National Domain Names System or to reconnect to the Russian DNS services.

Experts claim that DNS servers protecting connections in Google and CloudFlare are the fastest and most reliable. Blocking them would reduce Internet privacy and also harm the security of connections. A weakened protection is sure to be exploited by fraudsters.

Russia without the cryptocurrency

The Central Bank, together with the Russian government, has published a new document, “Financial Market Development Strategy to 2030”.

In particular, some talking points in the document relate to cryptocurrencies:

  • the state doesn’t recognise the legality of payments in the decentralised currencies; 
  • there are plans to tighten controls on the digital asset market in the near future;
  • New restrictions will apply to holders of cryptocurrencies. 

Recommendations have also been issued to financial institutions regarding the blocking of accounts and bank cards that are found to be involved in cryptocurrency transactions. Such cards and accounts will be put on a list of suspicious ones, after that they will be closely monitored.

At the same time, the new strategy provides for the issuance of the digital ruble as a new competitive financial instrument that will help in increasing the availability of such instruments for the business and for individuals.

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