The Kremlin wants to have more control over the network. Russia threatens to set up its ‘own internet’ with China, India and pals. The backup DNS should be created by August 1 next year. It will be part of an independent computer infrastructure controlled by Russia. The project has already been approved by President Vladimir Putin – let’s take a closer look.
DNS is an internet service that translates domain names into IP addresses. Because domain names are alphabetic, they’re easier to remember. The Internet, however, is really based on IP addresses. Every time you use a domain name, therefore, a DNS service must translate the name into the corresponding IP address. For example, the domain name http://www.example.com might translate to 188.8.131.52.
The DNS system is, in fact, its own network. If one DNS server doesn’t know how to translate a particular domain name, it asks another one, and so on, until the correct IP address is returned.
The Russian DNS is also supposed to be used by China, India, Brazil and South Africa. Last year, the United States gave control over the DNS to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This is a non-profit organization registered in California. China and Russia wanted ICANN’s competences to be transferred to the UN-controlled International Telecommunications Union (ITU). However, as this did not happen, Russia decided to invest in its own DNS infrastructure.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, denies that Russia wanted to limit access to western websites to its citizens. Despite these assurances, an alternative DNS server can be used to censor the network. And it can be more effective than selective blocking of access to VPN services and applications, as China does. If the authorities replace websites, instead of blocking them, users will not be aware that they see other versions of websites.
DNS translates www addresses to IP addresses
The Kremlin’s move may be a reaction to the recent block of the Russian information services on social networks. After the fact that Russians attempted to influence the American election, Twitter suspended any type of advertisement posts from Russian TV RT. It is possible that Moscow wants to go in the same direction as Beijing. China does not give its citizens access to the majority of Western information services and social networks. It is quite easy if you own your own DNS servers because usually users use the default settings and do not even know that some content may be unavailable then.
The independent internet would give the BRICS national governments more control over their countries’ web use. In the past, Russian officials have insisted that the nation is not looking to detach from the global internet, but instead protect it from ‘possible external influence.’ ‘Russia’s disconnection from the global internet is of course out of the question,’ Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said in 2014, according to RT.
Peskov also added, ‘recently, a fair share of unpredictability is present in the actions of our partners in both the US and the EU, and we must be prepared for any turn of events.’The spokesman then went on to say the nation has to ‘think about how to ensure our national security.’
During a recent meeting of the Russian Security Council, officials discussed an initiative to create an alternative to the DNS, claiming the move could protect Russia and a handful of other nations in the event of a large-scale cyber attack. In light of the new plan, however, experts are not convinced that the move is entirely about national security concerns.
Using an independent internet would reduce some of the risks of hacking an opponent, according to DefenseOne. The alternative DNS would keep the key trading partners connected – and separate from the target of attacks. ‘There is a deep irony in Russia citing the increased capabilities of Western nations going attacks in the informational space,’ technologist Peter Singer told DefenseOne. ‘It is like the fake social media account of the pot calling the kettle fake.