The disaster waiting to happen began when encrypted messaging service Telegram refused to hand over its encryption keys to the state. In response, the Federal Security Service filed a lawsuit, which it won, compelling it Telegram do so. With no response, Roscomnadzor obtained a court order to have Telegram blocked.
In a massive response, Russian ISPs – at Roscomnadzor’s behest – began mass-blocking IP addresses on a massive scale. Millions of IP addresses belong to Amazon, Google and other innocent parties were rendered inaccessible in Russia, causing chaos online.
Even VPN providers were targeted for facilitating access to Telegram but while the service strained under the pressure, it never went down and continues to function today.
In the wake of the operation there has been some attempt at a cleanup job, with Roscomnadzor announcing this week that it had unblocked millions of IP addresses belonging to Google.
“As part of a package of the measures to enforce the court’s decision on Telegram, Roskomnadzor has removed six Google subnets (more than 3.7 million IP-addresses) from the blocklist,” the telecoms watchdog said in a statement.
“In this case, the IP addresses of Telegram, which are part of these subnets, are fully installed and blocked. Subnets are unblocked in order to ensure the correct operation of third-party Internet resources.”
But while Roscomnadzor attempts to calm the seas, those angered by Russia’s carpet-bombing of the Internet were determined to make their voices heard. Hackers attacked the website of the Federal Agency for International Cooperation this week, defacing it with scathing criticism combined with NSFW suggestions and imagery.
“Greetings, Roskomnadzor,” the message began.
“Your recent destructive actions towards the Russian internet sector have led us to believe that you are nothing but a bunch of incompetent mindless worms. You shall not be able to continue this pointless vandalism any further.”
Signing off with advice to consider the defacement as a “final warning”, the hackers disappeared into the night after leaving a simple signature.
“Yours, Anonymous,” they wrote.
But the hackers weren’t done yet. In a NSFW cartoon strip that probably explains itself, ‘Anonymous’ suggested that Roscomnadzor should perhaps consider blocking itself, with the implement depicted in the final frame.
But while Russia’s attack on Telegram raises eyebrows worldwide, the actions of those in authority continue to baffle.
Last week, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s press secretary, Natalia Timakova, publicly advised a colleague to circumvent the Telegram blockade using a VPN, effectively undermining the massive efforts of the authorities. This week the head of Roscomnadzor only added to the confusion.
Effectively quashing rumors that he’d resigned due to the Telegram fiasco, Alexander Zharov had a conversation with the editor-in-chief of radio station ‘Says Moscow’.
During the liason, which took place during the Victory Parade in Red Square, Zharov was asked how he could be contacted. When Telegram was presented as a potential method, Zharov confirmed that he could be reached via the platform.
Finally, in a move that’s hoped could bring an end to the attack on the platform and others like it, Telegram filed an appeal this week challenging a decision by the Supreme Court of Russia which allows the Federal Security Service to demand access to encryption keys.