back to article Internet backbone Cogent cuts Russia connectivity

Cogent Communications will pull the plug on its connectivity to customers in Russia in response to President Putin's invasion of Ukraine. The US-based biz is one of the planet's largest internet backbones – the freeways of the internet – and says it carries roughly a quarter of global 'net traffic. Its clients range from …

  1. Khaptain Silver badge

    Difficult choice to make

    It hardly punishes Putin, he won't even notice the difference.

    However the Russians that don't support Putin will be extremely impacted, they will be shut off from the outside world...

    Putin and his cronies are the cause , they should be the only target. I imagine that this will only help reinforce his position within Russia, it's basically strengthening his dictatorship.

    We in the "free world" however have to understand that we also profit from the Russian Oligarch wealth, what will be done to stop the same thing being done after the war is over.

    No one is truly innocent in this dark scenario...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Difficult choice to make

      If it were a more civilized time, a team of assassins would be dispatched by some competing power and a surgical cleanup of the problem could be used. But these aren't civilized times; modern times demand long and bloody conflicts to settle rulers' differences instead.

      1. ClockworkOwl
        Facepalm

        Re: Difficult choice to make

        I support the mass posting of ice picks!

        Both sends a message, and provides a tool to achieve the result. As a bonus, there's good cultural synergy and a possible sense of deja-vu...

        1. TimMaher Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Ice picks

          I’d also send ice packs. To put on the resulting headache.

        2. Kane

          Re: Difficult choice to make

          "I support the mass posting of ice picks!"

          He got an Ice Pick.

          That made his ears burn.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Difficult choice to make

        > If it were a more civilized time, a team of assassins

        You mean like what happened to Archduke Ferdinand? That ended well.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: Difficult choice to make

          Well, yes. The Hapsburg Empire was dissolved, and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was formed as an independent state - a status it maintained better than anyone else in Europe for the next 70 years. The Black Hand would have been very proud of their handiwork.

          1. SEDT

            Re: Difficult choice to make

            Yes the Yugoslavian dictatorship was so wonderful that none of its former members want it back

            1. veti Silver badge

              Re: Difficult choice to make

              It was an independent state uniting multiple southern Slavic peoples, which was exactly what the Black Hand wanted. Fiercely independent - it stood up to the Nazis, the Soviets and Western Europe, alike.

              The fact that it may not have been a huge popular success isn't really the point. It was the goal of the assassination. So the assassination itself can be considered a roaring success.

          2. NXM Silver badge

            Re: Difficult choice to make

            I visited Yugoslavia in 1985. It had 100% employment!

            The fact that, for example on a deserted country train station in mid afternoon, there was a bored lad with a sweets stall, a very bored lad with an ice cream stall, and an extrememly bored lad with crisps or something, all with no customers, may have had something to do with it.

      3. BOFH in Training

        Re: Difficult choice to make

        I think Russia is already on it.

        They are very well known for the radioactive bits they like to use.

        Oh, you mean the other way round? Am sure that thought has at the least crossed the minds of various people, but the blowback could be huge, if caught. WW3 huge.

        Not to mention Putin will be a "martyr for the cause", for whoever takes over next, which will just give that person an excuse to do more shit in the name of "security".

        1. Blank Reg

          Re: Difficult choice to make

          If the sanctions keep turning former billionaire oligarchs into millionaires, or hopefully, but unlikely thousandaires, then one of them will find the easiest solution is to be rid of Putin for good.

          1. deadfamous

            Re: Difficult choice to make

            The oligarchs you are looking for are not Russian

          2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Difficult choice to make

            If the sanctions keep turning former billionaire oligarchs into millionaires, or hopefully, but unlikely thousandaires, then one of them will find the easiest solution is to be rid of Putin for good.

            The oligarchs don't run the place. And never did. They just got very rich. But other than people like Berezovsky, they mostly stayed out of politics. And what was done to Berezovsky was done as a warning ot the rest of them.

            The government is mostly run by ex-KGB types - the so called siloviki. Now a bunch of them have become oligarchs. But not the same type. They don't own the companies they run, they're running the big state companies like Gazprom and the like. So they've also got loadsa money and the yachts, but Putin can take most of that away simply by replacing them.

            Then you've got the inner circle, running the government. Who are also mostly ex KGB. But they're the ones with real power, and access to Putin. It's presumably going to be one of them that replaces him, if anyone does. In the same way the Politburo replaced Kruschev for taking too many risks with the Cuban missile crisis.

            But I'm not sure that's possible any more. In the old days, Putin had a group around him, helping him to run things, and advising him. He's moved from an authoritarian "managed democracy", through an autocracy into what looks increasingly like a personal dictatorship. There is no Politburo equivalent to tap him on the shoulder and suggest a quiet retirement. And probably nobody he'd trust to protect him, if he did retire. Which suggests he's now in office for life. Which could be a very long time.

      4. the Jim bloke

        Re: Difficult choice to make

        Maybe he will come down with the Kalashnikov or Makarov Covid variants, recognisable by symptoms of multiple deep penetrating punctures, structural damage, and low circulating blood volume.

      5. SEDT

        Re: Difficult choice to make

        You are assuming that this would help the good guys come out on top, I'd suggest the polar opposite

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Difficult choice to make

          You're assuming there are good guys

          There are no good guys and bad guys. There are merely bad guys on both sides with differing philosophies

      6. Uncle Ron

        Re: Difficult choice to make

        Vladimir Putin most likely has the strongest personal security of any human being ever in the modern age. Credible sources have said that he has never used a computer. Experts from around the world have said that he grossly miscalculated this move. I believe there are no "patriots" in Russia. Only abusers and victims.

    2. MatthewSt

      Re: Difficult choice to make

      It's a similar reasoning behind boycotts. One could argue that boycotting a product or company has a larger effect on the employees of the company rather than the owner. We just have to hope that all these actions "trickle up".

      1. Lon24

        Re: Difficult choice to make

        I'm boycotting gas as much as possible in exchange for lots of woolly jumpers.

        If every household did it it would remove one handle Putin has over europe, cut our bills and relieve the cost to the energy poor. As a bonus also safeguarding industrial supplies and our economy and help the climate crisis too.

        The losers would be Putin, the kleptocracy and the fossil fuel industry. I can handle that and probably still be warmer than the average Ukrainian.

        Based on the assumption that seeing how people live in tatty wooden huts in frozen Siberia - the trickle down effect works no better over there than it does over here.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Difficult choice to make

      Unfortunately targeting Putin and the mega-rich Oligarchy is extremely unlikely to affect any kind of meaningful change, unless we're willing to entirely eliminate them through the use of lethal force.

      Causing disruption to Russia's economy and it's people and using targeted sanctions to their ability to effectively fight a war is the lever that we have. While Russia may invade Ukraine, things could change very quickly for Putin once his soldiery and forces of authority stop being paid, or fed, or they run out of bullets and fuel.

      It is very sad for the people of Russia, but ultimately, not being able to access Facebook or YouTube is a somewhat mild inconvenience when placed alongside the Ukrainians who are having to bury their children.

      Putin MUST be incapacitated. Fully and completely this time. This is the way we do it.

    4. Snake Silver badge

      Re: Difficult choice to make

      But it is proof that it was (always) possible, and IMHO should, be done, regardless of what industry naysayers were saying at the beginning of the week.

    5. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Difficult choice to make

      "Putin and his cronies are the cause , they should be the only target."

      It would be exceptionally hard to just make those people the targets without doing something radical that would have very serious repercussions. They'll also usurp any resources left to the average punter. Just look at North Korea, lil Kim isn't going to suffer any impact to his power or lifestyle no matter how many citizens die unless those citizens finally snap.

      1. Blank Reg

        Re: Difficult choice to make

        The difference is that North Koreans have led a crap existence for so long that they don't know how good it could be. Russians know what life could be like and they won't like having their standard of living plummet to something like the old Soviet days, or worse.

    6. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Difficult choice to make

      From the article: Which would make President Putin's attempt to censor the web a lot easier.

      that's pretty close to my first impression when I began reading the article.

      If what we do punishes "the little guy", we're doing it wrong.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Captcha

    Maybe they just need to implement captcha for every connection from Russia. Just show a picture of a random person with a Ukrainian flag on their shirt, with two choices underneath: "Yes, this is a nazi terrorist", and "No, this is a normal person". If they click yes, you drop their connections...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Captcha

      While I'm normally hostile to advertising something along these lines sounds like a good idea. Make it impossible to use web sites outside Russia without encountering regular reports from Ukraine.

      1. Trigun

        Re: Captcha

        That is a very good idea: I like it. It'd have to be done properly and with a balanced view for many sources so that the person viewing it would have fewer excuses to say it was propaganda.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Captcha

          I was thinking of a Captcha with "Click on the images of Ukrainian apartment blocks shelled by the invading Russian army" or "Click on the images of casualties injured by the invading Russian army" etc.

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Captcha

      Just show a picture of a random person with a Ukrainian flag on their shirt, with two choices underneath: "Yes, this is a nazi terrorist", and "No, this is a normal person". If they click yes, you drop their connections...

      And once in a while show a photo of Vladimir Vladimirovich in which case the correct answer happens to be "Yes, this is a nazi terrorist" and the connection will be dropped when no is clicked.

      1. JassMan

        Re: Captcha

        3 buttons: Yes, No , Putin khuylo!

        1. Martin-73 Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Captcha

          and only the third connects you.... I like your thinking there.

  3. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    outbound cyber attacks

    Why were they OK before and why are they still OK from non-Russian networks? What about American hostile networks that are popular with Chinese and Russian hackers?

    1. T. F. M. Reader

      Re: outbound cyber attacks

      I don't think (serious) Russian cyber-attacks ever originate from Russian networks. Judging from the words in the article the thinking may be to prevent Russian-based criminals and spies from accessing non-Russian botnets.

      Not entirely sure this particular step can achieve the goal. And it does seem aligned with Mr. Putin's aspirations of disconnecting Russia from all things Western. But in the spirit of "send them back to the stone age"...

      I reserve judgement.

      1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: outbound cyber attacks

        There may be misunderstanding of how the attacks run. It's mostly about building and controlling bot networks. Bots that hack, post to social media, and expand on vulnerable hosts. Those bots can be anywhere and they eventually, somehow, find networks where they're given a permanent home.

        So yea, there are tons of botnet services in Russia, Vietnam, China, and the US. They're typically a /24 that has a fake business name and fake reverse DNS.

        My original comment is about Cogent being a complete hypocrite when they say they're trying to stop outbound Russian attacks and misinformation. They still peer with plenty of botnet services that aren't physically in Russia.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: outbound cyber attacks

      I reality it has nothing to do with hacking, same with all the other companies that are temporarily pulling out, and more to do with the bottom line. With no way to transfer money out of the country and the ruble becoming worthless, what they sell today at the equivalent of 1000usd could be 1usd next week. So while there is no way to transfer money out, all these companies will stay out of Russia but for good publicity say its to support Ukraine.

      1. BOFH in Training

        Re: outbound cyber attacks

        You are probably right in that.

        Anyway isn't the internet designed to route around damage? So, maybe go thru China or something I guess.

  4. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

    Interesting piece at The Guardian yesterday on this: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2022/mar/04/bot-holiday-covid-misinformation-ukraine-social-media.

    I'd love to see some hard numbers on this if anyone has a source. It strikes me as a unusual opportunity to derive an accurate estimate of just how much of twitter is Russian bot.

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Given their prime witness David Fisman --from what they quote of him plus a quick look at his Twitter feed-- is himself a startling source of DISinformation, I'd take that article with not so much a grain of salt as a truckload of quicklime.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You will also have noticed that the "quality" of the responses to Bozo the clown's facebook posts has improved too.

      There's still plenty of sycophants, but the deluge of single sentence posts of [ applause | appreciation | unbridled support | etc] from accounts with "foreign sounding" names within minutes of posting have all but gone, redirected to other targets I guess?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Would be best not to do this...

    This would just give them the ability to say: "Look! Free speech doesn't apply when they don't like it".

    Best to let Putin talk garbage and look like an idiot... A bit like "NATO is looking for any excuse to attack Russia" followed by creating the biggest excuse ever as if one were needed (hint: NATO don't really care about Russia as long as they are being a "normal" country - which they were for a bit)... Or maybe: "It's the West that are making former Russian allies not be friends" (hint: it's not either/or: Russia's poor relations with their former allies has very little do to with the West and a lot to do with... Ahem... Russian military action)

    So... why prevent Putin talking?

    1. VulcanV5

      Re: Would be best not to do this...

      Why prevent talking? You evidently haven't any insight into the nature of the narcissistic psychopath that Putin truly is. He needs his voice to be heard, and hurts when it isn't. He needs his image to be seen, and it hurts him when it isn't. Once a narcissistic psychopathic KGB thug, always a narcissistic psychopathic KGB thug: denying Putin ANYTHING is an affront he feels deeply (or as deep as his shallow carapace can).

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Would be best not to do this...

      You have the CORRECT attitude about free speech!

      (Thanks for saying it)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don’t forget Pooh Bear in all of this

    I wonder how he feels about Putin’s cavalier regard to flinging nukes about!

    Even if China supports Putin, they surely don’t agree with trashing the world.

    1. Blank Reg

      Re: Don’t forget Pooh Bear in all of this

      China very much likes having the world as its customer, not having a world would really put a damper on economic growth.

  7. scrubber

    Conspiracies not all wrong?

    The use of this conflict to restrict free speech, free press, protest etc. makes it look like opportunism by the west.

    The ability to take people out of the financial system for 'reasons' means that they can now do that to the rest of us suggests more than opportunism. But that would just be a crazy conspiracy, right? Like vaccine mandates, government shutdown of scientific debate, vaccine passports, limits on travel, shutting down bank accounts, covid camps, two tiered society, medical apartheid, bans from social media for mentioning lab leak etc. etc.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: Conspiracies not all wrong?

      What restrictions is "the west" putting on free speech? (Hint, there's nothing remotely free about RT - but other people are completely free to repeat their talking points, if anyone can be convinced to take them seriously.)

      What restrictions has the west put on protest? It's Russia that's arresting eight-year-old girls for the crime of laying flowers outside the Ukrainian embassy.

      To the rest of your rant, these are the same tired talking points anti-vaxxers have been using to prolong the pandemic for the past year. I'm pretty sure you already know the detailed rebuttal of each point you make. If by some amazing chance you're not, it shouldn't take more than about four minutes to find them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Conspiracies not all wrong?

        Personally I don't think UK/EU should be blocking RT, most of us are smart enough to access other information sources and cannot fail to reach the conclusion that Russia is the baddie here. The counter argument came from my wife who got a response from a fellow Brit that "yes but it's not unreasonable for Russia to be concerned about Ukraine joining NATO" and drawing a parallel with Cuba in 1962 which makes me realise there are some swallowing the RT propaganda without applying common sense. We also know a Russian living here who's only source of news was RT and has some "interesting" opinions. But still is it worth the sacrifice of freedom of speech to protect a few idiots from their own stupidity?

        What I mean by "applying common sense" is this:

        Firstly Ukraine's wish to join NATO was amplified by having their territory invaded by Russia in 2014 so the problem is one of Russias making

        Secondly, suppose Ukraine were to become part of Russia, then Russia would have an additional border with a handful of _actual_ NATO members, like Poland so rather defeating the goal of avoiding a new border with a NATO country.

        The only way for Russia to NOT have a bordering NATO country is to invade the rest of Europe - The Russia Finland border is over 800 miles, longer than any current NATO/Russia border, longer than Ukraine/Russia border. No wonder Finland is worried too and as a result of the invasion of Ukraine now want to join NATO.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Conspiracies not all wrong?

          I agree that banning RT was a mistake. I don't know what happened in the UK, as I didn't think we had. From what I read it's because the EU had banned them, and so they lost satellite access. That explains why Sky and Freesat lost them, but I'm not quite sure why they also disappeared from Freeview.

      2. scrubber

        Re: Conspiracies not all wrong?

        @veti "What restrictions is "the west" putting on free speech?"

        This wasn't about RT - although I think that was a silly decision - it was about the following:

        The United States security services have declared that mal-, mis-, and dis-information are all potentially terrorist activities. The Surgeon General has asked social media companies to send him a list of people making medical claims that do not fit the current narrative for purposes yet to be determined.

        The UK has banned unapproved protests. The Online Safety Bill will prevent people from saying "legal but harmful" things online.

        I'm sure there are plenty of other things in the offing, but isn't it funny that these are being pushed while everyone is distracted? I half expect them to come after our medical data again.

  8. neilfs

    The Internet isn’t what it used to be!

    So the Internet, a network of networks, self healing, redundant, robust, neutral. Tens if not hundreds of inter-connected networks.

    Now we have one corporate organisation who can break that! Somehow we have lost the original ideals of the Internet and should be concerned by that.

    If we can throw the switch on one country, it could be thrown on any country.

    Is too much hardwired? Surely if things were still working by old ideals Cogent cutting their network peering should cause the data to route by other networks, automatically. Russia at worst would notice less bandwidth, slower transfers and other peers would seen a sudden spike in data and may themselves have to rate limit that.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: The Internet isn’t what it used to be!

      Well yes, that's about what I expect will happen. Although other carriers may have policies of their own. I would expect the throttling effect to be quite brutal for the average Russian Internet user.

  9. TheMeerkat

    Cutting its citizens from information coming from abroad is exactly what Putin wants.

    We should cut everything but information.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Smart guys in Russia

    There are some highly competent IT guys in Russia and they must have been following uncensored world news. A significant proportion must have reached their own rational conclusions about the situation. They have the tools and skills to wreak internal havoc. The tools some of them may have had access to perhaps for cyber attacks outside Russia could be equally effective internally, "turning ploughshares into swords" (https://biblehub.com/joel/3-10.htm).

    What are they doing? Perhaps they facilitated the DOXing of 120,000 Russian soldiers https://www.theregister.com/2022/03/02/russian_soldier_leaks/ but need to keep a low profile for obvious reasons...

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Smart guys in Russia

      In some ways I actually pity the Russian soldiers. They're typically conscripts, are being ordered to their death and to kill civilians by a megalomaniac that apparently wants to BRING BACK THE SOVIET UNION, and when they realize they have been lied to (the Ukranians HATE them and are not thankful at ALL for their presence) their morale is extremely LOW.

      Ideally I'd like to see them all lay down their arms and voluntarily walk into the custody of Ukrainian authorities as P.O.W.s but most likely they have family in Russia that Putin might actually cause to "get disappeared", unless they do what they're told.

      Just thought I'd point that out.

      1. confused and dazed

        Re: Smart guys in Russia

        It's always the young and the poor that disproportionately die in these things. Conscripts in Russia, civilians and volunteers in Ukraine. Poor people where job opportunities are limited to the armed forces.

        It's just a tragedy. I sincerely hope the Russian soldiers do put down their weapons - that would be heroic.

  11. teknopaul

    unwarranted and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,

    I'll give you unwarranted but unprovoked is historically inaccurate.

    You may feel NATO expansión is not a threat but Putin does not, and that is what matters. I am antiwar and anti military expansion. We have a working alternative. The expansion (bar Brexit) of the EU has caused a lot of wealth and peace. NATO is a military alliance, explicitly. Its expansion is explicitly military expansion. It has caused a war. I think it would have been wiser to leave NATO out of this and keep plugging away at expanding the EU. Its has been working well for those of us that live in the EU.

    In terms of peace, what ever you may think about the economics of the deal. War does not create wealth, except for those that benefit from the sale of tools of death and destruction.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: unwarranted and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,

      The purpose of NATO was to deter war by providing a sufficiently strong defence as to make invading a member counter-productive. Putin has demonstrated very effectively what can happen to a country that does not have that protection. He seems to be prompting Finland to seek it.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: unwarranted and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,

      teknopaul,

      We don't even know if NATO is the real reason. Ukraine weren't going to be joining NATO anytime soon - and that was blindingly obvious to anyone with half a brain. Because most of the major European members were against it.

      But as it happens, it's not obvious that the real threat Putin was upset about wasn't the EU anyway? It wasn't NATO membership that the Ukrainian people wanted when they chucked out their government in 2014. It wasn't NATO flags they were holding in the Maidan protests, there were EU ones. The Ukrainian public didn't show a great interest in joining NATO until after Russia had invaded, annexed Crimea, set-up the 2 breakaway Donbas republics and then invaded again in 2015 to stop them collapsing. It was links with the rest of Europe, and the prospect of not being lumbered with Russian backed governments they were after.

      So it's just as likely that what Putin fears is an independent and democratic country on his borders, that might manage to have a reasonably well-functioning democracy. Particularly given that lots of its population speak Russian and have Russian relatives. And so complaining about NATO or EU "interference" in Ukraine is just a way of trying to claim that it's all nasty outsiders suggesting that you don't need dictators like Putin around to keep you safe.

      Also there's a good argument to say that the only reason the EU has survived to have wealth and peace is the existence of NATO to protect it.

      1. SAdams

        Oil and Gas

        What the media don’t report much is that large oil and gas reserves have been found in Ukraine / off the Crimea coast. Russia gets a big wad of it’s income from selling oil and gas to Europe. Ukraine/Crimea suddenly became a threat to Russia economically, which has added to Putin’s “make Russia great again” megalomania…

  12. SAdams

    Radio Free Europe

    Yeah great idea. Not.

    Russia’s “privacy” laws are designed for exactly this eventuality. It may stop a few bot factories (although they will could probably just use government satellite links), but the main impact will no doubt be ordinary Russians trying to get unbiased news,

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