The Russian government is updating its technology laws so that it can block the use of modern internet protocols that could hinder its monitoring and censorship capabilities.
Moscow officials are not looking to ban HTTPS and encrypted communications as a whole, as they are essential for modern financial transactions, communications, military infrastructure, and critical infrastructure.
Instead, the government wants to ban the use of internet protocols that mask a web page’s identifier name within HTTPS traffic.
While HTTPS encrypts the content of the Internet connection, there are several techniques that third parties, such as telecommunications companies, can apply to determine the location the user is connecting to.
Has Third parties cannot crack the encryption and spy on the traffic, but they can track or block users, and this is how some parental control lists work at the ISP level.
The two primary methods used by telecom companies include viewing DNS traffic and analyzing the server name identification field in HTTPS traffic.
The first technique works because browsers and applications perform plain-text (DNS) queries, revealing the user’s destination site even before a HTTPS connection is established.
The second technique works because the field for identifying the server name in HTTPS connections is left unencrypted, allowing external parties to determine which site the HTTPS connection goes to.
Over the past decade, several new Internet protocols have been developed to address these two issues.
The (DoH) and (DoT) protocol can Encrypted (DNS) queries, as TLS 1.3 and ESNI, when combined, can prevent the server name identification from leaking.
Both in browsers and for cloud service providers and websites around the world, these protocols are slowly gaining adoption.
China has implemented the Great Firewall of Censorship to block HTTPS traffic that depends on TLS 1.3 and ESNI, which means that these new protocols are working as they should.
Russia does not use a national firewall system, but the Moscow system relies on a system called (SORMSecurity agencies are permitted to intercept Internet traffic for law enforcement purposes directly from the source, in telecom data centers.
The Russian Ministry of Communications runs a de facto national firewall through its regulatory authority over local internet service providers.
The ministry has been banning websites it deemed dangerous over the past decade and requiring internet service providers to filter their traffic and block access to the respective sites.
With the adoption of TLS 1.3, DoH, DoT and ESNI, all existing monitoring and censorship tools in Russia will be useless, as they depend on accessing website identifiers that leak encrypted web traffic.
And just like China, it is suppressing Russia These new technologies, and according to the proposed law amendment, any company or website that uses technology to hide its website ID in encrypted traffic within Russia will be banned after a one-day warning.
The proposed law is still under open debate, and awaits Notes Audience until October 5, andGiven the strategic, political, and intelligence benefits that come with amending the law, it is almost certain that the amendment will pass.