Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor blocks access to 6 VPNs

Pierluigi Paganini September 08, 2021

Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor tightens control of its citizens and blocked access to six virtual private networks (VPNs), including NordVPN and ExpressVPN.

Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor tightens the control over the Internet and blocked access to six virtual private networks (VPNs), Hola!VPN, ExpressVPN, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, Nord VPN, Speedify VPN, and IPVanish VPN.

Russian communications watchdog argues that VPNs could be abused for illegal activities online, including terrorism and child pornography.

However, the watchdog made some exceptions for companies that leverage VPNs for their operations, for this reason, the regulator created a white list of software and apps that will be able to continue using VPN providers.

“On September 2, in accordance with the rules of centralized management of the public communications network, approved by the Government of the Russian Federation dated February 12, 2020 No. 127, it was decided to block 6 more VPN services that violate Russian legislation (Hola! VPN, ExpressVPN, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, Nord VPN, Speedify VPN, IPVanish VPN).” reads the announcement published by Roskomnadzor.

“The use of blocking bypass services leads to the preservation of access to prohibited information and resources, creates conditions for illegal activities, including those related to the distribution of drugs, child pornography, extremism and suicidal tendencies. To exclude the disruption of software and applications that do not violate Russian law and use VPN services for technological purposes, “white lists” were formed to prevent their blocking.”

In the past, Roskomnadzor demanded some of the blocked VPNs to provide the government with access to the servers located in Russia. NordVPN, in response to the request, shut down all the servers located in the country. 

On Wednesday 10 March 2021, researchers from Network data from the NetBlocks Internet Observatory observed the disruption of internet service provided by the Russian operator Rostelecom.

The partial disruption of the service coincided with the announcement of new restrictions by the telecoms watchdog Roskomnadzor.

Multiple operators were impacted by the activity, most impacted were mobile networks.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, FIN8)

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