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Why Russia Is About To Switch Off The Internet

Russia is planning to briefly disconnect from cyberspace to test its cyber-defences.

Internet providers are effectively planning to flick the switch and cut Russia off from the rest of the not-so-world wide web.

The test would ensure all data passing between the country's citizens and organisations can stay local rather than being routed internationally.

The ultimate goal is to be able to isolate the Russian internet, known as Runet, on command so that in the event of a foreign attack,  the net would still remain fully functional.

IMAGE: Getty

A draft law called the Digital Economy National Program was introduced to parliament last year that would force all state internet providers to re-route internet traffic through exchange points managed by Russia's telecommunications regulator, Roskomndazor.

Not only would the new laws protect the country from cyber attacks, but they would also ensure all internet traffic to the country is filtered, much like in China.

There is no exact date for the test but it's expected to be carried out before April 1.

Russian President Vladimir Putin IMAGE: Alexey Nikolsky via Getty

WHY?

Basically, Russia is preparing for retaliatory cyber attacks from the United States and other western countries.

The nation has been accused of dozens of cyber attacks.

That includes targetting the U.S.'s critical infrastructure sectors and interfering in the U.S. election.

Ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual press conference, 2017 IMAGE: Anton Novoderezhkin via Getty

NATO and its allies have threatened to retaliate against Moscow's online aggression but are yet to take drastic action.

As a result, the Russian government began working on defence tactics years ago.

READ MORE: Australia Condemns 'Malicious' Russia Over Hacking

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There are also theories that this latest move will help authorities create a massive surveillance and censorship system that will ultimately give them more control over the internet.

IMAGE: Henrik500/Getty

COUNTRIES HAVE GONE OFFLINE BEFORE

Countries have been known to accidentally disconnect themselves from the net.

In 2018, Mauritania went offline for two days after an undersea fibre cable was cut. And web traffic in Syria  plunged to zero on a number of occasions over several years.