The Russian government is currently discussing plans to build its own "independent internet infrastructure" that will be used by BRICS member states — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
The plan was part of the topic list at the October meeting of the Russian Security Council, and President Vladimir Putin approved the initiative with a completion deadline of August 1, 2018, according to Russian news agency RT (formerly Russia Today).
The Russian Security Council has today formally asked the country's government to start the building of a backup global DNS system that Russia and fellow BRICS member states could use.
The Russian Security Council cited the "increased capabilities of western nations to conduct offensive operations in the informational space."
Russia and fellow BRICS nations would like the option to flip a switch and move Internet traffic from today's main DNS system to their own private backup.
Russia, China, and many other countries have criticized the US for hoarding control over the domain naming system (DNS), a position they claim has allowed the US to intercept and tap global Internet traffic.
Last year, the US handed over control over the DNS system to ICANN, an independent organization. While Russia and China welcomed the move, they actually wanted the DNS system to be controlled by the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union. This is because the two countries have more power in UN matters than control over an NGO, like ICANN.
The US was fearful to hand over control over the worldwide DNS system because it argued this would allow oppressive regimes to censor what Internet sites citizens can access.
With a backup DNS system in place, all BRICS members can simply switch off the main DNS system and use their own in times of crisis.
This also allows BRICS members to limit access to any website they wish when the backup DNS system is activated, such as social networks when used to rally anti-government protests.
Furthermore, the backup DNS system also allows oppressive regimes to deanonymize Tor traffic and hunt for dissidents, via an attack called DefecTor.
In addition, the backup DNS system also allows these states to isolate websites and services that other countries could not access.
Some might argue this might allow Russian and Chinese hackers to go after any target they want but would give both countries a place to hide their own critical infrastructure.
NATO declared "cyber" as a fourth battleground after air, sea, and land in June 2016.
The news today comes after Russia ran a test of a backup DNS system in 2014, and after in May this year, Russian officials said they planned to route 95% of all Internet traffic locally by 2020. Also today, NATO countries announced they were mulling a stronger response to cyber attacks.