[funsec] Kremlin Can't Pursue War Against Internet Without Hackers, Expert Says

Paul Ferguson fergdawgster at gmail.com
Sun Sep 28 23:24:16 CDT 2008

Hash: SHA1

Via the Georgian Daily.


The Kremlin will not be able to close down Internet sites it doesn't like
without using hackers, either those working directly for its security
services or those inspired by Moscow's propaganda campaigns, according to a
leading Russian specialist on that country's intelligence services.

In an interview posted online yesterday, Andrei Soldatov, the editor of
Agentura.ru and a frequent commentator on the activities of the FSB and
other Russian intelligence services, said [1] that Moscow's campaign
against Ingushetia.ru showed the limits of its ability to achieve its goals
through legal means.

This week, he noted, the Russian authorities for the first time lifted the
domain registration of a site – Ingushetia.ru – in hopes of closing it
down. They acted in accordance with the "rules on the registration of
domains on dot RU." (For a discussion of how these were applied in the
current situation, visit here [2].)

Up until this time, the intelligence specialist said, Moscow and regional
governments have put pressure on Russian-based providers in efforts to
close down sites not through the use of Russian courts but rather by
"telephoning" the providers and explaining to them what was necessary.

But like all their previous efforts in the two-year-long campaign to close
this independent news portal -- on that effort, visit here [3] -- the
Russian and Ingush powers that be failed because the editors of the site,
which is already hosted by an IP abroad, quickly re-registered in the
dotORG domain where they can operate freely.

The Russian government has tried to pressure foreign governments to close
down sites that Moscow doesn't like in the past. In 2005, Soldatov
recounts, the Russian foreign ministry demanded that Sweden shut down the
pro-Chechen Kavkaz-Tsentr site, but Sweden refused point blank to do so.

The very next day, that site was subject to a hacker attack originating in
Tula oblast. When the Swedes learned about this, they asked why wasn't
Moscow "struggling with illegal hacker activity" in this case. In response,
FSB officials in Tula issued a press release saying that the attack was
"not organized by criminals" but by "patriotically inclined young people."

Since that time, Soldatov recounts, senior Russian intelligence officials
have repeatedly called on Western governments to reach an agreement with
Moscow to close sites that the Russian government has identified as
connected with extremism or terrorism. But to date, no Western country has
agreed to do that.

Great Britain had been edging toward an accord, the Agentura.ru editor
says, but backed away after the Litvinenko murder. And as a result, "it is
possible to register in England, to put out a Russian Internet publication
and no requests from the Russian side will be considered. Simply because
there is no legal basis for this."

As a result, Soldatov concludes, Moscow will not be able to continue its
struggle with independent-minded Internet sites without the use of hackers,
a conclusion that the experience of other Russian sites tends to confirm
(visit here [4] and this site [5]).

All this suggests that Russian hackers, both those directly employed by the
FSB and other Russian intelligence agencies and those "patriotically
inclined young people" whom those institutions can mobilize will be playing
a bigger role in the future, as more and more dotRU registrants seek to
defend themselves from Moscow's censorship by changing domains.



[1] http://www.izbrannoe.ru/46586.html
[2] http://www.izbrannoe.ru/46553.html
[3] http://www.izbrannoe.ru/46550.htm
[4] http://www.forum.msk.ru/material/news/533859.html
[5] http://www.compromat.ru/main/internet/filter.htm

- - ferg

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"Fergie", a.k.a. Paul Ferguson
 Engineering Architecture for the Internet
 ferg's tech blog: http://fergdawg.blogspot.com/

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