Russian FSB mulls unified secure communications net

Russia’s Federal Security Service, known as FSB, is planning to build a communications network to track potential cyberthreats focused on defense and security and law enforcement agencies.
Russian President Vladimir Putin endorsed the FSB’s integrated communications net in August, according to Kommersant.
The secure commuications network appears to be part of Russian military efforts to prepare for cyber attacks during any future conflict.
The large-scale program will be part of the state Central Institute for Information and Communications, known by its Russian acronym TsITiS. That unit is part of the electronic intelligence and code-breaking agency Federal Agency for Government Communications & Information, known as FAPSI. TsITis, is headed by Army Gen. Aleksandr Starovoytov, one of FAPSI’s founders.
A proposal for the new network, that could cost tens of billions of dollars was presented to Putin and endorsed by him May 31. A source described the system as “an integrated communications network for defense needs and for security and law and order requirements (ISS),”
The source said that under the FSB proposal Rossvyaz [the Federal Communications Agency] is to be the authorized government agency for the creation, management, and exploitation of the ISS, while TsITiS would be the sole agent for network construction operations.
The proposal was to be sumitted to the Russian government in September.
“Traditional approaches to building and ensuring information security in communications networks for specialist users based on the use of public communications networks do not provide for the protection of communications networks and control systems against online interference [kibervozdeystviye], viruses designed to accomplish special operations using IT, cyber-terrorist attacks, and other cyber-crimes,” the source was quoted as saying.
The FSB was directed by Putin in January to develop a system that could forecast and prevent cyber attacks on Russian information systems.
“The scale of the build and the list of specific tasks are not known. Rossvyaz’s experience could be applied in building communications networks for any purpose,” said Vladimir Kalinin, an adviser to Rossvyaz, the federal executive agency responsible for its creation.
Russian security services have their own email and cellphone communications but still use a variety of state-run public operators, including Rostelekom, Megafon, and others.
The FSB regards communications as vulnerable to attack. “A number of states” set up resources that can corrupt public networks, disrupt their operation, and facilitate unsanctioned access to them. In addition, nowadays a significant proportion of internet traffic even from Staraya Ploshchad [Russian Federation government offices] to the Kremlin effectively goes via U.S. territory,” a source close to the Security Council told Kommersant.
The Russian network would be similar to the Pentagon’s SIPRNET. The SIPRNET network was created by the Pentagon, and it links all the security departments, the State Department, and the White House.

Aug. 21, 2013