Russia uses new hardware to target Alexei Navalny’s anti-Kremlin app, experts say

Russia is using new digital hardware to target an online app that has arrested the team of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, set up to undermine the Kremlin in next month’s parliamentary elections, cyber experts said.

Navalny and his allies want to use the app and its website to organize a tactical voting campaign in the Sept. 17-19 vote to strike down the ruling United Russia party, which dominates the political landscape.

The “smart vote” campaign requires followers to sign up and receive a candidate who has the best chance of defeating the party in their constituency.

It is one of Navalny’s few remaining levers after a crackdown banned his movement as an extremist this summer. Several of your sites have already been blocked.

Communications watchdog Roskomnadzor told Google and Apple to remove the app from their stores. Neither of them has done this so far, and the app has been a trend in Russia’s online segment.

On Monday night, Navalny’s allies accused Russian authorities of trying to block it, efforts they say have intensified since Friday and mean the app was not loading content for some users.

“We fixed a few things and now the app’s accessibility is around 70 percent,” said his allies on the Telegram messenger.

GlobalCheck, a group that monitors the accessibility of websites in Russia and the region using sensors, said Russia was shutting down the application with equipment that uses a technology called Deep Packet Inspection, which can analyze Internet traffic, identify traffic flows. data from specific services and block them.

Russia’s communications watchdog ordered all Internet providers, including cell phone operators, to install this equipment in 2019, after Russia passed legislation known as the “Sovereign Internet” law.

The legislation was one of a series of measures taken by the authorities to tighten Internet controls, raising fears among Internet freedom advocates that Russia was adopting a stricter, Chinese-style view of Internet control.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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