Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Cyberwar is a dangerous topic to talk about, but the world has been concerned about the recent ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. Especially those with family members or friends living in Ukraine. Well, I’m not going to comment or side on either side, cause human life is still being lost, no matter which side you’re on.
But my condolence to those in both countries who’s lost any of their friends or families due to the war.
Now back to the discussion at hand. I know that some of you had been curious about the effects of the war concerning the internet connections of the citizens in both countries. Well, I’ll be discussing that here, though I’ll be focusing more on Ukraine than Russia.
The Other Side of War
Know that war isn’t only fought on the battleground, war could also be fought on the internet. And this is where hackers come into play, they try to affect or even possibly destroy the infrastructure of the opposing country. Both countries have been affected in one way or another due to the ongoing war since both countries have been hacking each other here and there.
Take Russia for example, around April 2022, took down multiple Romanian banks, military, government, and mass media websites, due to a statement made by the then-Senate president. He mentioned providing Ukraine with military equipment, to defend itself against Russia. After which Russia responded with a cyber attack that crippled a lot of their infrastructure.
This is just an example of one of the cyber attacks instigated by Russia. Though they aren’t the best when it comes to cyber attacks, they are quite good at it. Like when they caused a massive black in Ukraine on December 2015, which lead to the temporary loss of power for over 200,000 people.
Honestly, it hasn’t been easy for Ukraine. Why you may ask? Imagine being monitored, I know that the government discreetly monitors our every activity on the internet, but you are mostly not conscious of it. But in this case, even your government is telling you that your every activity of monitored and controlled.
That’s what some cities in Ukraine like Kherson are currently facing.
They say that information is power right? Then what better way to acquire that information than the internet. Ukraine has about 1,500 internet providers, and more than 700 are currently under the control of the Russian government.
Understand that controlling the internet activities of the opponent is extremely crucial in every war, cause you could do a lot of things that you normally couldn’t. Things like unrestricted access to the activities of the citizens, control over what they see or hear, knowing their plans and schedules, who they communicate with, and what they are communicating about. But most importantly, you now have more barging chips against the citizens, which would help control their actions against you.
Though the citizens living in the cities, with their internet providers controlled, don’t have much of a choice. Like it is either connect and be monitored, or don’t and be cut off from the use of the internet. All hope isn’t lost yet. Elon Musk deployed thousands of Starlink satellite internet terminals to aid Ukraine in its battle against Russia and also provide internet connection for some of the affected areas.
For those who don’t know, Starlink is a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX, which provides internet coverage to over 40 countries.
Use of VPN in Russia
VPNs are mostly banned in Russia, surprised right? Though Russia isn’t the only country like this, China is even more strict than Russia in this regard. Though VPNs are not completely banned in Russia, they only approve of VPNs that comply with their censorship laws, also more like China. Laws like blocking contents banned in the country, and connecting to the state’s information filtering system.
This means that you can’t access banned or restricted URL websites and internet contents on Russia’s “reject list”. So most VPN providers have to comply with these rules when providing their services to the people in the country.
But this strict policy made the use of VPNs in the country skyrocket. Those who want access to certain information now have to go through various processes to gain access to the information they need. Cause there are still some VPN providers who try to get around the Russian government’s strict policy.
But the war with Ukraine made the use of those VPNs an important factor for the citizens in Russia. Cause they know that their government restricts certain information about the war from them, making VPNs their only means of accessing those restricted informations from other sources in the world.
Russia’s Banned VPNs and Consequences Involved
As I mentioned earlier, you could still access websites and blocked contents through certain VPNs while living in Russia, but you should still be mindful of the consequences involved when you do so.
In September 2021, the Roskomnadzor banned ExpressVPN, NordVPN, IPVanish VPN, Hola VPN, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited and Speedify VPN. Roskomnadzor is Russia’s federal executive body responsible for control, censorship, and supervision over anything and everything involving media, mass communication, information technology, and things of that nature. Click here. for more on this. And these are not the only ones that have been banned.
Currently, a total of 15 VPNs have been banned since 2019. The citizens of the country were instructed not to make use of them anymore cause the service providers refused to comply with their censorship laws. And any citizen caught using any of the non-approved VPNs, will be fined $5,100 for the user and the service provider, $12,000.
And these bans are only going to get worse, cause the Roskomnadzor’s strongest desire is to gain absolute control overevery piece of information in Russia. Forget what the Russian government says about enforcing the ban on certain platforms and websites, we all know that’s a smoke screen.
Though you could bypass all these when using KeepSolid VPN. The VPN is known for using 256-bit AES encryption. In English, it is the industry standard for the computers used by the military and government in the United States.