Roskomnadzor’s BGP Blackhole Instruction to Russian ISP’s Is Working
Date: 10 May 2019 Category : Russia blocks encrypted email provider ProtonMail | Author: Graham Penrose
Two months ago Russia’s internet regulator Roskomnadzor instructed Russian ISPs to bin traffic from certain internet addresses.
These black holes are implemented on edge (PE) routers using BGP blackhole filtering, a routing technique used to drop unwanted traffic.
Black holes are placed in the parts of a network where unwanted traffic should be dropped. In this case the Russian government used a pretty slick method of binning content from a list of servers, including Protonmail, rather than trying to take down the service itself. This means that while Protonmail will load on a users device, no email will be delivered.
“ProtonMail is not blocked in the normal way, it’s actually a bit more subtle,” said Yen of Protonmail. “They are blocking access to ProtonMail mail servers. So Mail.ru — and most other Russian mail servers — for example, is no longer able to deliver email to ProtonMail, but a Russian user has no problem getting to their inbox,” he said
In all, 26 internet addresses were blocked by the order, including several servers used to scramble the final connection for users of Tor, an anonymity network popular for circumventing censorship.
“The block was ordered by the state Federal Security Service (FSB), formerly the KGB, according to a Russian-language blog, which obtained and published the order after the agency accused the company (Protonmail) and several other email providers of facilitating bomb threats. Several anonymous bomb threats were sent by email to police in late January 2019, forcing several schools and government buildings to evacuate.” Zack Whittaker, Techcrunch