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Security

Russia may unplug from the internet to test its cyberdefenses

The experiment would keep data inside the country instead of routing it internationally.

Portable Technology Photo

Russia may cut itself off from the wider internet, at least temporarily.

Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Russia and its main internet providers may be planning to disconnect the country from the internet.

The move would be part of an experiment to see whether its cyberdefenses could manage an attack from a foreign power, according to Russian outlet RBK. It would gather data as politicians assess the Digital Economy National Program, a draft law that would require the country's internet providers to ensure that Russia's internet can operate in isolation if a foreign power cuts it off.

Russia's telecoms would have to re-route the country's internet traffic to exchange points approved by Russian telecom watchdog Roskomnazor so it can block prohibited content and ensure traffic doesn't pass through foreign servers, CNET sister site ZDNet reported Monday. 

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Essentially, Russia is simultaneously trying to create a system of mass censorship like China's Great Firewall while trying to ensure that Russia maintains a fully operational intranet if it gets disconnected from the rest of the world.

The test will supposedly take place before April 1, the deadline for submitting amendments to the Digital Economy National Program.

The legislation, which has the support of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was introduced after the US "authorized offensive cyber operations" against adversaries in its National Cyber Strategy in September. Russia is regularly accused of hacking US and European government bodies.

Roskomnazor didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.