Dedicated military intranet to help defend Russian armed forces

News by Eugene Gerden

The Russian army now has its own military intranet, which is a closed IT network, specially protected against external cyber-attacks, according to the Russian Ministry of Defence.  

The new intranet is known as "Closed Data Transmission Segment" (CDTS) and is not connected to the global web.

As Sergey Beregovoy, a senior engineering of the department of cyber-threats of the Ministry of Defence told SC Media UK, all the computers which form the network are protected from connections by uncertified USB flash drives and external hard drives. In addition, he says that the system has its own electronic mail service, which allows the transfer of sensitive information, including documents, marked "Of particular importance."

The new military intranet is partially deployed on the leased infrastructure of Rostelecom (Russia's leading telephone provider), as well as the Ministry of Defence's own IT infrastructure which is not connected to the Internet. Each military unit has its own computer servers that encrypt information, split it into several packages and pass it on. Access to server rooms is strictly limited.

The level of investment involved in establishing the new military intranet is not disclosed.

As in the global web, the new military intranet has its own websites. The main network resource is available at mil.zs, where many third-level domains have been created.

These web-sites can be seen through computers operated on the MSRAF system (which is the mobile system of the Russian  Armed Forces), and are certified by the State Secrets Protection Service, also known as the Eighth Directorate of the General Staff.

Connection of external non-certified devices (flash drives, printers, scanners, etc) to the military intranet is described as impossible, while attempts to use the system are fixed and controlled by special software.

Leading Russian cyber-security analysts have welcomed the creation of a military network.

Vladimir Stepanov, retired colonel of the Russian army and a leading local expert in the field of military cyber-security considers this move as the right and logical step.

As Stepanov told SC Media UK, even in the case of large public operators, their technological networks are usually separated from the public Internet in order to eliminate the risk of unauthorised access to infrastructure equipment.

He says that the new military intranet has its own e-mail service, which allows exchange of  messages only between users within the network. All document circulation by the Russian Armed Forces (dispatches, applications, lists, reports on work done with photographs, etc) passes through this service.

Russian experts believe that the new military intranet will be more resistent to external cyber-attacks than similar systems used in Western countries, and in particular those used in the US.

This system is also intended to prevent leakage of classified information, similar to that which was carried out by former NSA agent Edward Snowden.


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