The Techno-Geeks Strike Back – TTG

Lumen Technologies, an American company that operates one of the largest Internet backbones and carries a significant percentage of the world’s Internet traffic, said today it will stop routing traffic for organizations based in Russia. Lumen’s decision comes just days after a similar exit by backbone provider Cogent, and amid a news media crackdown in Russia that has already left millions of Russians in the dark about what is really going on with their president’s war in Ukraine.

Monroe, La. based Lumen (formerly CenturyLink) initially said it would halt all new business with organizations based in Russia, leaving open the possibility of continuing to serve existing clients there. But on Tuesday the company said it could no longer justify that stance.

“Life has taken a turn in Russia and Lumen is unable to continue to operate in this market,” Lumen said in a published statement. “The business services we provide are extremely small and very limited as is our physical presence. However, we are taking steps to immediately stop business in the region.”

“We decided to disconnect the network due to increased security risk inside Russia,” the statement continues. “We have not yet experienced network disruptions but given the increasingly uncertain environment and the heightened risk of state action, we took this move to ensure the security of our and our customers’ networks, as well as the ongoing integrity of the global Internet.

According to Internet infrastructure monitoring firm Kentik, Lumen is the top international transit provider to Russia, with customers including Russian telecom giants Rostelecom and TTK, as well as all three major mobile operators (MTS, Megafon and VEON).

“A backbone carrier disconnecting its customers in a country the size of Russia is without precedent in the history of the internet and reflects the intense global reaction that the world has had over the invasion of Ukraine,” wrote Doug Madory, Kentik’s director of Internet analysis.

It’s not clear whether any other Internet backbone providers — some of which are based outside of the United States — will follow the lead of Lumen and Cogent. But Madory notes that as economic sanctions continue to exact a toll on Russia’s economy, its own telecommunications firms may have difficulty paying foreign transit providers for service.

https://krebsonsecurity.com/2022/03/internet-backbone-giant-lumen-shuns-ru/

Comment: This is a good start. Far better than cutting off access to Starbucks lattes and quarter pounders with cheese. Perhaps more backbone providers will cut off Russian access to their networks. Even if the providers don’t make that deliberate decision, they will cut off Russian customers if they are unable to pay their monthly bill in a currency more reliable than Republic of Pineland 50 don notes. Those customers will be dropped like hot potatoes.

Russia has done a lot to isolate their internet from outside influence, probably for just this kind of contingency. However, the Russian network is not as self-sufficient as Putin would like to believe. The kleptocracy extends to the Russian internet infrastructure. The drive for import substitution is rife with fraud and deception. This should be obvious with the last two weeks ineptness in Russia’s military technology and logistics. Unlike China, Russia has not built a true indigenous capability. It relies heavily on Western technology for IT hardware, software and connectivity. What will happen when the Russian cyber criminal world looses access to their victims? Will they join the revenge of the techno-geeks?

China could provide Russia with her IT needs including connectivity, but it won’t be out of the goodness of their hearts or some kind of totalitarian comraderie. It will cost Putin. 

TTG

https://www.kentik.com/blog/cogent-disconnects-from-russia/

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1501360272442896388.html

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31 Responses to The Techno-Geeks Strike Back – TTG

  1. James Doleman says:

    Won’t this also hit ordinary Russians trying to access non-state controlled news?

  2. Fred says:

    So the economic war begins. I’m sure there will be no repercussions. But for now, it will “cost Putin”.

    • Matthew says:

      Fred: Apparently, the prevailing wisdom is that by attacking every Russian in every sphere, the Russian people will decide that Putin was crazy when he told his people that the West wants to destroy Russia.

      I guess we need a Ph. D. in IR to understand this high level of strategy.

      (Shakes head.)

  3. zmajcek says:

    Russia may or may not be able to deal with this, but this sets a bad precedent IMO.
    Soon every major economy/country will view Internet connectivity as a potential weapon to be used against it. CISCO and other western IT companies stand to lose a lot in the long run.

    At least ICANN is still resisting pressure to take sides.

  4. whoknows says:

    During the Soviet times, it was the West broadcasting information into the USSR, and the Soviets employed the jammers to choke the flow.

    Now it is the opposite. What a shame.

  5. Sam says:

    TTG,

    How long before it starts applying right here at home to those with the temerity of wongspeak?

    Are we unleashing the beast of weaponization of private enterprise in the service of the national security state?

    Justin has already shown us what happens prior to what we’re now doing to Russians.

  6. Christian J. Chuba says:

    This is the same as cutting off electricity or water supply. It’s an infrastructure attack on the civilian population. This is would be the same as Russia cutting off NG supplies to Europe and Ukraine in the dead of winter. This prevents Russian businesses from operating inside of Russia. Some of those businesses are just as likely to provide food and health care. So now it’s total war.

    ———————————
    And we do this while throwing flowers at the Saudis who actually are committing genocide in Yemen. What have we done to stop that? 1. pretend it is not happening, 2. blame Iran, 3. profit from it.

    • cofer says:

      Door number 2.

      • Christian J. Chuba says:

        Very good. The Saudis who bomb and execute the blockade are not to blame. The Saudis who have been the instrument in the deaths over 200,000 are not to blame; It’s Iran’s fault for making them do it.

        This is Putin’s logic in Ukraine. Putin claims self-defense because he feels threatened by the U.S. (his Iran).
        MbS of Saudi Arabia did this not because the Houthis ever threatened them but because he feels threatened by them.
        ————————-
        Btw we have done a lot of door #1, while CNN will show any image of Ukraine immediately, the cameras never roll in Yemen.

  7. John says:

    So colonel should the world use the same punishments when the US goes rogue like in Iraq or currently in Syria? Seriously stealing oil? How many dark babies has the US killed? What about the document (by the NYT no less) of civilian deaths by drones recently in Syria that was actively covered up.

    • fakebot says:

      You talk an awful lot about dark babies and civilian deaths. The US isn’t perfect, but she does a lot more good than bad in the world.

      For starters, there would probably be a lot more dead civilians if the US, or at least a country like hers, didn’t retain a strong enough posture to ensure some order in the world.

      And for all those dead dark babies, all those amazing advancements lead by the US in fields like medical care ensures that more beautiful have a chance at survival than was ever possible in the past.

      There’s a lot more to be grateful for than there is to denounce when you really come to think about things.

      • fakebot says:

        *more beautiful babies*

      • joe90 says:

        To paraphrase Madeleine Albright “We think sanctions killing 500,000 Iraqi children is worth it if as long as we gain control of their oil as that does a lot more good than bad in the world. “

  8. Leith says:

    Interesting newsclip from 82 years ago.

    36 sexonds:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HL41oesVh9o

  9. Sam says:

    TTG,

    I’m not well versed in internet architecture unlike you who have spent a lot of time in the plumbing.

    I do however have some knowledge of banking networks and cross-border finance. Is this internet thingy more PR than any real sanction like what we saw with the “cutting off a few Russian banks from SWIFT”? Or is there something here?

    Cross-border finance is a giant networked ledger. Like the internet if a node is down the IP traffic just gets rerouted. The “Eurodollar” system is a giant network of banks updating distributed ledgers that are denominated in dollars but outside the control of the Fed and the Treasury. And banks can create credit out of thin air. Only people who don’t understand the plumbing of the system keep harping as they have for decades that the dollar will be supplanted by some yet mythical unit of denomination for this giant networked distributed ledger.

    IMO, I think there’s a lot more kabuki going on compared to the narrative being engineered. For example, BP is selling its stake in its Russian JVs at a discount to “show Putin”. Who’s getting screwed with the equity impairment? Holders of BP equity mostly pension and other investment funds in the west. Who benefits? Russian oligarchs or Chinese investors who buy an asset at a discount to its NAV.

    It appears to me that all these economic measures are largely a con. Yeah, it adds friction and cost for Russia but it is nowhere near what is being sold in the narrative. I guess the narrative engineers believe we’re all dumb and they have a point considering what they engineered with the covidian narrative.

    A YouTube discussion on the reality of the SWIFT cutoff:

    https://youtu.be/f7HedcU57HE

    • TTG says:

      Sam,

      Just a short reply. I’ll look at the video you provided tomorrow. SWIFT, I feel, is a surgical hit. There are surely other ways to handle funds internationally. Removing access to the network backbone physically removes any connection for SWIFT and any other network, financial or otherwise. Even cryptocurrencies are totally dependent on servers in data centers and network connectivity. Without the backbone, there is no rerouting, only silence. If just a few companies cut access to the backbone, connections can be rerouted through remaining backbone connections, but those connections are severely degraded. I’m guessing that China could provide some level of connectivity to Russia, but that added traffic would degrade China’s networks and connectivity. I don’t know to what degree that degradation would be. As I said, China may help, but it will cost Putin. In the short term, Russia can become a satellite country to China. It would be a mighty fall for Putin’s vision of a greater Russia.

      • Christian J. Chuba says:

        “SWIFT, I feel, is a surgical hit.”

        Exactly. It indiscriminately targets Russian civilians, just as the Russians are allegedly targeting civilians in Ukraine.

    • TTG says:

      Sam,

      I watched that video. It’s very good. It does make the point that cutting off internet backbone connections is what really matters, not just the cutting off of one particular messaging system like SWIFT. I guess you can send messages through HF radio with sufficient relay stations or just use the physical postal system, but good luck with those options. Another point made in the video is that so much of these systems are privately owned and outside of direct government control. That’s a good thing. That means sanctions and cutting off of business ties is a consensus thing, not subject to the whim of any single government. It all does seem to boil down to who has the most effective IO campaign to shape that consensus. Maybe after Ukraine, public consensus can be influenced on Yemen and other problems.

      • jld says:

        “It all does seem to boil down to who has the most effective IO campaign to shape that consensus.”
        Ah! “Democracy” at its best?
        Are you sure?

  10. jld says:

    This only means that the whole West is turning autistic, that will not end well.

  11. James says:

    It is time for us to ask our Chinese friends to show us how to use a VPN. I am sure they can give us some recommendations on the best VPN to use.

    • James says:

      I should have been less flippant. But VPNs do work – and the Internet itself is designed to route around both censorship and technical failure. I am sure that TTG understands how Border Gateway Protocol works – it along with the OSI stack are beautiful and very, very robust.

      • Pat Lang says:

        James
        I use ProtonVPN

      • TTG says:

        James,

        VPNs are great, but you have to have faith in whoever is running the VPN service. VPN services have been used by intelligence services and criminal networks to monitor traffic. TOR is another alternative, but intel services know it’s being used to hide identities, not just by criminals, but by people just concerned about their privacy. Hackers are also suspect of those using TOR because they know the FBI uses it. An alternative is to obtain a stable of shell accounts, string a few of them together through SSH tunnels. You can push HTTPS through those shell accounts. But that’s a lot of work.

        The BGP community is based on mutual trust and have an enormous amount of power over world communications if they choose to exercise it. Fortunately this is a well meaning community of good, open minded people. However, if they get their dander up, they could wreak Hell on the wicked if they put their mind to it.

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