Russia: Ever the Innovator for Internal Controls

March 12, 2020

DarkCyber tries to ignore Russia. The Fancy Bears, the hackers, and the secretive university research facilities—these give the team a headache. We spotted a headline which caused us to lift our gaze from more interesting innovations in Herliya and Tel Aviv to read “Russia Seeks to Block ‘Darknet’ Technologies, Including Telegram’s Blockchain.” According to the story:

A Russian government agency has requested contractor bids to find ways to block censorship-resistant internet technologies, like mesh networks. The list includes messaging app company Telegram’s yet-to-be-launched blockchain.

The technologies which Russia deems problematic include:

mesh networks, Internet of Things (IoT) protocols and protocols allowing anonymous browsing, including Invisible Internet Project (I2P), The Onion Router (TOR), Freenet, Zeronet, anoNet – and one blockchain, the Telegram Open Network (TON).

Other countries are likely to have similar concerns. Client states are likely to benefit from any Russian innovations which blunt these digital tools.

DarkCyber has a slightly different view:

  1. The technologies needed to deal with these systems will be developed. How quickly is anyone’s guess. But progress will be made.
  2. Turnover within research entities and Russia’s dynamic and quite interesting commercial sector is ongoing.
  3. Certain entrepreneurs apply innovations to what some people might describe as “extra legal” activities. If these individuals and their corporate constructs enjoy the benefit of positive support from some Russian officials, the innovations will find their way into a gray market.

Net net: Censorship is part of the government agenda. The new tools will have an impact outside of the Russian nation states. Censorship and monitoring go hand in hand in some countries.

Stephen E Arnold, March 12, 2020


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