Russia must learn from the mistakes of others in order to develop and strengthen its own technological Internet platforms. We are now critically dependent on Western decisions.
The largest disruption to social networking sites and the subsequent drop in IT giants’ stocks are once again reminding the world of profound structural changes in the nexus of politics, economics and technology. This time, in contrast to episodic problems, be it a hacker attack or deliberate manipulation, the “domino effect” was obvious. The shutdowns affected not only the sites of individual companies with interconnected services such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. There have been rolling blackouts of almost all major social networks and services, with the exception of Telegram.
A version was put forward that the DNS addresses, which are responsible for adequate routing, were somehow deleted or corrupted. According to the second version, the cybercriminals hacked into the Facebook servers and posted the personal data of users for sale.
After some time, the data leak was confirmed by some users who decided to check whether their personal data, including phone numbers and correspondence, became available for free sale. Although this does not mean that it was on October 4 that the data was hacked – it could have been stolen earlier or leaked by employees of the company itself.
Later, Facebook Inc stated that router configuration changes were the cause of the six-hour outage on the Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram platforms.
It turned out that experts involved in the routing of the Facebook data center based on the BGP protocol were involved in the problem. Netizens drew attention to the team of authors – Facebook employees. There are two Russians among them: Peter Lapukhov and Alexey Andreev…
Although the culprits have been practically found, this failure shows a certain vulnerability from being tied to Western IT monopolists, which raises the question of the need to develop its own services and technological autarky. As the Internet of Things promises to connect billions of new devices in the coming years, providing many opportunities in segments from sensors and connected cars to full-fledged smart cities, and with the introduction of 5G and new global platforms, dependence on gadgets will increase even more, complex measures need to be developed:
- clear rules for global cyberspace;
- determination of sovereignty in the Internet space;
- the possibility of autonomous work without reference to Western services.
Carriers still need to properly tune the models to support a tiered strategy that includes both global and local cases for international business, while supporting low latency and platforms that can drive massive IoT revenues.
Operators are currently pursuing different strategies and are at different stages. According to Gartner, the largest players in this segment are Vodafone, Telefonica, AT&T and Orange Business Services. It is clear that 5G will increase the potential for the mainstream IoT, and this creates a need for new ways of working for operators that are different from legacy methods.
Many devices themselves consume a small amount of data, but a huge amount is accumulating around the world, so it is necessary to think about how to increase traffic. Carriers are now working together to improve peering for the Internet of Things with their IPX services, thereby reducing latency and increasing service availability by providing direct connectivity rather than home routing for devices traveling around the world.
Orange, China Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, PCCW, Sparkle and Vodafone Business signed a code of conduct in 2021 that defines the framework for direct IoT peering. What will be Russia’s national response to these new challenges and solutions?
Another important mechanism is “cloud computing”, which refers to the provision of computing services over the Internet, including servers, storage, databases, networks, software and analytics. There is now talk of hyperscale cloud technologies that offer significant economies of scale and potential data security benefits.
From a technical standpoint, hyperscale cloud technologies provide ready access to data storage and compute capabilities that far exceed the functionality, scale, and performance of on-premises alternatives. From an economic point of view, they carry out a special kind of exchange of values that is possible only thanks to the Internet. For developers, these two complementary phenomena play a fundamental role in innovation and growth in the Internet age.
However, why don’t they talk about the political side of the issue? Where will the servers be located and who will control their reliability? It is quite understandable that such services will require national jurisdiction. If the CIA and the Pentagon use the services of Amazon, Google and Microsoft, it would be quite logical to admit that it is undesirable for Russian government agencies and companies to work with these contractors. However, universities in Russia are still using Microsoft services.
Among hyperscale operators, Amazon, Microsoft and Google collectively account for more than half of all major data centers. Other key players in this market are Oracle, IBM, Salesforce, Alibaba and Tencent. The largest cloud providers operate data centers around the world, segmenting customers into different regions, which can span many countries or even entire continents. We don’t see a single Russian company here.
Public sector organizations should consider in detail the options for using the cloud when purchasing new or existing services. There must be a well-defined assessment process – primarily from a national security perspective. All confidential data, including personal data, must be protected by strong encryption both in transit (for example, when transferring from a user’s phone to the cloud) and at rest (when it is stored in a data center).
Now it is necessary to take into account Western experience in these processes in order to avoid repeating mistakes, and to work on key projects with existing guidelines. Perhaps it makes sense to create some kind of additional supervisory and regulatory bodies, like the agency for the security of the cyberspace infrastructure of the US Department of Homeland Security.
Of course, this is not about blind imitation, but about a strategic and thoughtful approach. To begin with, it is necessary to create expert platforms where techies, international affairs and geopolitics can work out schemes for interaction and develop a common consensus to form a comprehensive strategy. At the moment, there are no such sites in Russia. Well-known forums and communities have pragmatic tasks and are related to the IT business. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other state bodies work each in their own direction.
Meanwhile, Russia’s cybergeopolitics needs not only linking different structures and communities, but also ideological content.
Analytical group Katehon
Photo: Russia will not be an independent country as long as we are controlled by Western Internet servers (Production Perig / shutterstock.com)