back to article Enterprise IT finds itself in a war zone – with no script

Trade embargoes are powerful weapons, especially in wartime. They used to be very visible: naval blockades had huge impacts against the Confederacy in the American Civil War and, 50 years later, Germany in the First World War. The Battle of the Atlantic in the Second World War nearly sank the UK.  The building of Sberbank of …

  1. Dave Null

    How an org should consider exiting RU - Krebs Stamos Group

    I thought this was an excellent article

    How an org should create a plan to exit a hostile country safely.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Very good indeed.

    I couldn’t agree more. The time for leadership is indeed now.

    Stand up and be counted Cloud providers.

  3. TiredNConfused80

    Want to get out without breaking contract?

    Simply change your login landing page (if it's a cloud portal then it is the company you are siging in to that controls that page) into something that shows images of the latest Russian War crime. Then make sure that anyone signing in from Russia has to re authenticate at least weekly.

    I'm pretty sure the company will be banned pdq from the customer end and you have done nothing that you could be taken to court for.

  4. Dr Paul Taylor

    Cutting Russia off from the InterWebs is stupid

    In past wars, getting your message to the population of the enemy country required flying over them and dropping leaflets.

    The Internet and Web make this far easier. Just hijack (some) port 80 connections out of Russia and make people watch videos of the effects of bombing Ukraine and what captured conscripts think, before redirecting to the intended site.

    But also bear in mind that all this will force dictators to be more IT-self-sufficient, so the effectiveness of such measures will be reduced next time round.

    Taiwan, for example. China is taking notes.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Cutting Russia off from the InterWebs is stupid

      China is not going to invade Taiwan. Unless they declare everyone "neo nazis" and start bombing cities into rubble like Russia did, they can't. The Taiwanese wouldn't accept China coming in and setting up a puppet government anymore than the Ukrainians are. Destroying all the infrastructure and making enemies of the people destroys the value of Taiwan to China. They view them as misguided brothers, not an enemy to be killed if they won't capitulate.

      This isn't like Ukraine where Putin feels threatened having a border country that isn't a vassal. Taiwan is an island so they can't drive tanks across the border in mainland China, and they have no designs on reversing the revolution on the mainland by military force even if they could.

      The only way China wants Taiwan is if it comes willingly, they do not want to have to permanently occupy hostile territory with insurgents sending soldiers home in body bags. They've seen how that movie ends with Afghanistan (twice) and Iran, and are about to see that movie replay in Ukraine. If Putin's disastrous war affects China's opinion about a military takeover of Taiwan, it is to make it even less likely than it already was. They know an invasion of Taiwan would not accomplish their desire for re-unification, it would instead make that impossible.

      1. very angry man

        Re: Cutting Russia off from the InterWebs is stupid

        Hong Kong, Tibet how quickly we forget.

        You might think China wont invade Taiwan, but all its nabours think it will, the Taiwanese think it will, even the Ozzy's who generally don't think, think it will

        1. Atomic Duetto

          even the Ozzy's…

          Aussie (Aussie, Aussie)

          Ozzy was an ostrich

          Plucka is a duck (not a chicken or a cow)

          We’re also quite thoughtful and at times, respectful. My Australian mother in-law is technically Ukrainian given she was born in a Nazi camp in Poland after her mum was taken (lack of sons). She was also a fan of Red and Plucka

        2. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Cutting Russia off from the InterWebs is stupid

          Hong Kong was leased, and everyone always knew the date for the handover to Chinese control. If you rent a house you don't expect to have a say in what the landlord does with it after your lease is over, do you?

          Totally different situation from Taiwan, which while China claims it is not simply going to allow China to take governing it on a given date as happened with Hong Kong. Taiwan has no value if China has to bomb it to rubble and forcibly take it over as Putin is doing with Ukraine. Putin does that because he cares about "territory" and having another vassal state to buffer from NATO like Belarus, so while he'd prefer (and it seems expected) Ukraine be intact it does not have to be for his goal to be achieved.

          China does not view Taiwan as a threat like Putin viewed Ukraine, and they can't simply drive across the border - and China v Taiwan is a lot closer to an even contest than Russia v Ukraine, so it would be even more costly to China than Ukraine is turning out to be for Putin.

          Chinese leadership believes in their not-communist not-capitalist "Chinese Way". They likely feel that if they continue going along their current path and become the world's largest economy, Taiwan will come along willingly (we may think they are wrong, but that wouldn't stop them from believing this to be true)

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Cutting Russia off from the InterWebs is stupid

        China wouldn't want to destroy Hong Kong's democracy. Hong Kong's usefulness as an international center depends on not being like the many other cities in mainland China that have most of what you would need but don't attract the interest from other countries. No chance they would change the laws there to be essentially the same as in those other, rejected cities and back up those changes with violence.

        They also would have no reason to take over and maintain control over the Xinjiang region--it isn't part of China, the people there didn't accept their presence, and it has little to gain by holding it. If they did have control over that region, they wouldn't annoy the locals by locking up some of them without reason. They certainly wouldn't be stupid enough to do that to hundreds of thousands. After all, genocide only makes it more likely that someone decides to oppose you with violence. I would expect a very peaceful Xinjiang.

        China is a dictatorship with a leader for life who has all the same problems that Russia's leader has. If his desire for new territory is strong enough and he thinks he can get away with it, he will take what he can. It's not about defense, just as Russia didn't invade Ukraine for defense (Ukraine's military couldn't take over Russia and wouldn't be suicidal enough to try, and by taking it, Russia is only increasing the land border they have with NATO and NATO's level of concern). It's not about culture (Russia doesn't think Ukrainians want Putin ruling over them and China doesn't think Taiwanese want Xi ruling over them). It's not even about resources. It's just about what you can have by using that wonderful toy, the military, that you haven't been able to use very much since you took power. The land first, what can be stripped from it in due time, and any extra clout you might have with someone else who fears you more now.

      3. Allan George Dyer

        Re: Cutting Russia off from the InterWebs is stupid

        @DS999 - "China is not going to invade Taiwan."

        Well, It wouldn't be an invasion, it would be a reunification, according to Xi's perspective. They don't need to label everyone "neo-nazis", they are already using "separatists", which is quite possibly a far worse crime in Xi's eyes.

        Of course China wants their rebel province Taiwan to return willingly. They believe that Taiwan will be quite willing, after a suitable period of re-education The success of this approach can be seen in Hong Kong and other places.

      4. BOFH in Training

        Re: Cutting Russia off from the InterWebs is stupid

        It will actually be worst then in Afghnistan, since the native Taiwanese and the Chinese look very similar, even if up close.

        So you can't exactly figure out if you are potentially entering a dangerous neighbourhood.

        Of cos I don't think suicide bombing will spread pass the ISIS / AQ and similar followers, but you never know what one will be willing to do if shoved into a corner.

      5. Naselus

        Re: Cutting Russia off from the InterWebs is stupid

        He's right, China isn't going to invade Taiwan. Invading would require them to recognize it as not already part of China, which they strictly don't.

        They instead want to engage in "troop movements into integral Chinese regions which have until recently remained under extended rebel control".

  5. Custard Fridge

    The West will have this chance only once...

    Information is, as has been said to me several times over 30 years in IT, the new utility that we cannot do without.

    Having the ability to reduce the opposition's major companies to their knees is indeed a very new & powerful tool indeed.

    Cutting off multiple industries from their primary / secondary systems for production, monitoring, HR, payroll, sales, purchasing, design - it's as if the West suddenly realises it has keys to most of the virtual filing cabinets in Russia. It can lock them shut, or indeed incinerate the contents.

    This will only happen once.

    5-10 years from now, China will have those keys.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The West will have this chance only once...

      "5-10 years from now, China will have those keys."

      Given that western countries have spent the last few decades steadily pushing their more and more of their supply chains to China, whose fault is that?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The West will have this chance only once...

      5-10 years from now, China will have those keys.

      Actually, they already have them, but not via IT. The 5-10 years scenario still holds, but that's mainly because the embedding will take a while longer, but the Western world has already lost this fight.

      I'm old enough not to be concerned too much, but I am glad my kids did a few years learning Mandarin besides other languages.

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Of these aspects, the lack of leadership is the most pressing. That's not the sector's fault: effective embargoes need coherent and unambiguous governmental and regulatory guidance, neither of which are visible."

    Formally that second sentence might be true. In reality, however, the industry could, and arguabley should, be telling the government and regulatory bodies of what's needed. The lack of leadership isn't as implied, all on the governmental side.

    1. ConsumedByFire

      I will agree Doctor.

      In my opinion the tech companies should be implementing the sanctions. Working out which sanctioned people buy what from them and cutting off the supply. Just implement the sanctions.

      I wouldn't consider it fair to cut off services to all of Russia right now (unless it were likely to result in a change of regime) as you'd be causing loads of hardship for people who disagree with what their dictator is doing.

      Work out if you are selling to a company with any ownership/control by a sanctioned individual. Shut down the services you are supplying. Else you are in breach.

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "there's one shot at getting it right"

    Oh, so we're going to fuck it up then.

    We're back to WWI all over again. Nothing has been learned.

    Except, this time, we have nukes.

    Either we learn, or we disappear.

    1. b0llchit Silver badge

      Re: "there's one shot at getting it right"

      Either we learn, or we disappear.

      We should opt to disappear. That way the earth will regain its balance sooner than later without another catastrophic extinction event.

      1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

        Re: "there's one shot at getting it right"

        "We should opt to disappear. That way the earth will regain its balance sooner than later without another catastrophic extinction event."

        1) We are already in the middle of a catastrophic extinction event. That ship has sailed, thanks to the cancerous spread of homo sapiens.

        2) An annihilation event involving nuclear weapons will not improve the situation. Our best hope is a species is to learn how to live in responsible coexistence with the Earth. Given how many people deny that there's a problem with the Earth's ecosystem in the first place or that it's human-caused . . . everything is on slow-motion trajectory towards fucked.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: "there's one shot at getting it right"

          > 2) An annihilation event involving nuclear weapons will not improve the situation.

          Oh, I don't know. A nuclear winter would certainly solve the global warming problem...

      2. My-Handle

        Re: "there's one shot at getting it right"

        It's definitely a popular viewpoint at the moment, that humanity is a blight on everything.

        Myself, I prefer to argue for the moral right to exist. The best path to aim for should surely be existing with care and respect for the ecosystems we live in, rather than committing a species' equivalent of suicide? Difficult though it is, I have a feeling that you'll find more people willing to try that than to die for the environment.

      3. Psmo

        Re: "there's one shot at getting it right"

        After you... watch that first step

      4. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: "there's one shot at getting it right"

        "We should opt to disappear. That way the earth will regain its balance sooner than later without another catastrophic extinction event."

        I hate to break this to you, but nuclear war would be a catastrophic extinction event, and probably not for humans. Lots of other life forms would go extinct though.

        Also, what balance are you referring to? The planet does not have a balance. Ecosystems vary at all levels, from geological to behavioral. Human activity has been causing a lot of change, and there's certainly a lot of good reasons we should act to stop doing that, but don't pretend that, if we succeeded or stopped existing, that change wouldn't continue. Nature is not a school physics example where everything comes into graceful balance if people stop messing with it. Nature is big, complicated, and in constant flux.

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: "there's one shot at getting it right"

      >We're back to WWI all over again. Nothing has been learned.

      Even in WW1 you could get German newspapers in the UK (and British newspapers in Germany).

      The need to tightly control public information is a modern thing. The US military, for example. 'embeds' journalists ostensibly to give them access but in reality to control what that access sees.

      1. Cav Bronze badge

        Re: "there's one shot at getting it right"

        If the military\government really wanted to control the message then there would be no embedding at all.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "there's one shot at getting it right"

        That's not even remotely true.

      3. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: "there's one shot at getting it right"

        "The need to tightly control public information is a modern thing."

        No, it certainly is not. Let me give you one good example from the time period. You know the Spanish flu? Why is it called that? Because it started in Spain, of course. Except it didn't; it started in the central United States. Soldiers training there caught it and spread it around to other troops, who went to other countries and spread it there, and eventually it was everyone who spread it everywhere. So where did that name come from, then? The answer is that Spain put out a lot of information on the disease and other countries did not. The other countries did not because they were censoring for the war effort. Spain did because it did not participate in the war effort. People got their information about this disease from the one country in the area that wasn't censoring, and the information divide was so severe that the pandemic got a misnomer that is still used a century later. Censorship is not new.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Legality of a war

    Curious to see the commentator specified this as an illegal war.

    Legally declared, or not as in this case, invasion of Ukraine would require pushback from us the IT crowd since it is reprehensible.

  9. martinusher Silver badge

    We've actually been at war with Russia, China and other nations for many years now

    An article in today's "Washington Post" reports on a visit from US officials to Venezuela, the team including on of the government's top hostage negotiators. There's no official word about what they want and what they're offering but its quite obvious that its oil that they're after. As everyone's no doubt aware, we've been sanctioning the 'regime' there because we don't like them, they claim they're socialist or something, so we turn the economic screws on them to make the population suffer and so hopefully provoke civic unrest, regime change and so on.

    Sanctions are economic warfare. We (the US) impose them and then use our extra-territorial muscle to make sure that everyone else falls in line. So, for example, when we unilaterally withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran and impose 'maximum sanctions' we're able to bully smaller countries like the EU to fall in line. We've been ramping sanctions up against Russia -- it was #2 behind Iran before this war started -- and we've been working at China. Much of this is economic -- we worry about competitiveness so we invent some human rights excuse or another and Joe Public just swallows it.

    The problem with sanctions, though, is that they're a form of warfare. Especially if the target is big enough to fight back sooner or later economic warfare is going to become real warfare because you ramp up the threat to a state -- as seen by that state - and eventually a different calculus kicks in.

    A lot of these companies that are cutting ties with Russia are doing so not because of high moral principles but because the DoJ will hammer them, and their officers, if they don't.

    1. Cav Bronze badge

      Re: We've actually been at war with Russia, China and other nations for many years now

      "so we invent some human rights excuse or another and Joe Public just swallows it."

      You can't really be that clueless? There is no need to invent human rights excuses. They are real. The problem is not that the West imposes sanctions in real cases of abuse but that it looks the other way, NOT imposing sanctions when it should. And that isn't government but that Joe Public demanding cheap crap at slave labor prices. Politicians then fall in line behind said public to stay in power.

      1. very angry man

        Re: We've actually been at war with Russia, China and other nations for many years now

        god dam it ! you are both right.

        Surprise Governments LIE, twist the truth, then lie some more, corporation's lie news services lie.

        where is the man from mars to make some sense of it all.

        God wont help us , He's so pissed off right now!

    2. BOFH in Training

      Re: We've actually been at war with Russia, China and other nations for many years now

      Am sure Iran is expecting an interesting deal in the current talks which allows them to open up their oil taps.

      And don't tell me people have not been thinking about that.

      We are living in interesting times, and we should expect strange bedfellows.

    3. veti Silver badge

      Re: We've actually been at war with Russia, China and other nations for many years now

      You can't compare US sanctions against Iran, opposed and undercut by pretty much everyone else, with what's just been done to Russia. It's a whole other thing.

      I can (and do) still buy Iranian dates in the supermarket. Russian vodka, on the other hand, is gone.

  10. wwestislander

    Russia itself did do some work for a project of their own to have an "independent" internet that could continue to function if it was cut off from the west, all-out cyber-war style. What is not so easy is replicating equivalents to the entire very sophisticated ecosystem of the current internet. Databases, APIs, software, services. Is it possible to maintain rewritten-from-scratch equivalents of google, AWS, azure? I doubt it. Can they maintain a parallel software ecosystem IOS, Windows, Office, databases? (NO). But given motivation and resources, workarounds will be developed. We already live in the era of the malware arms race. Throw Sanctions into the mix and there will certainly be sanctions arms races to deal with.

    I am all in favor of cutting of people and organizations that contribute to or benefit from the war crimes and state terrorism currently being carried out. Some of these entities are outside of Russia itself of course. An important and non-trivial task is identifying reliably who exactly they are. Some are obvious, some not at all.

    Public pressure on on our Internet carriers, providers, standards bodies, infrastructure managers, investors, managers, customers, directors and the like is what is most important at this time. A million and one re configurations, disconnections, redirections will be necessary.

    There are apparently a number of high-powered legal firms offering advice to their customers on what to do. Part of this advice will undoubtedly revolve around how to keep things working while "technically" conforming to sanctions. So I predict a lot of "shadow" operations will be developed which are tuned to continue to operate - sanctions or not-.

    It would be very helpful to hold a few discussion conferences just to orient technical folks to this new and potentially very complex world of Internet in the era of war sanctions. Maybe there are some already out there formal or otherwise.

    1. DevOpsTimothyC

      Internet != Web

      What is not so easy is replicating equivalents to the entire very sophisticated ecosystem of the current internet. Databases, APIs, software, services. Is it possible to maintain rewritten-from-scratch equivalents of google, AWS, azure? I doubt it.

      Equivalents of google, AWS, azure? Do you mean like the Alibaba cloud? If you want to do similar yourself take a look at libvirt and kvm. There are plenty of tools to manage a kvm/libvert cloud (including Terraform Libvirt provider)

      Very sophisticated ecosystem of the current internet? Everything that makes the core of the internet work (whois, DNS, BGP) is open source.

      parallel software ecosystem - IOS? Not everyone wants to use Apple phones. There are plenty of Android ones and there are alternatives to the Google Play store.

      parallel software ecosystem - Windows? As for Windows, does windows stop working if you NEVER activate it ? For the home user it's almost like shareware / nagware back in the day... You really should register this product so you don't have to look at this licence screen.

      parallel software ecosystem - Office? Libre Office? I'm sure there are other open source equivalents.

      parallel software ecosystem - Databases? Where to even start with this one. Most SQL databases are open source. Take a look at PostgreSQL or MariaDB for just the most well known. Yes there are also ones like CockroachDB which are propriety but I imagine that all it would take is one purchase for all of Russia, especially as Russia is decriminalizing software piracy. All of the main document databases are already open source.

      1. F. Frederick Skitty Silver badge

        Re: Internet != Web

        Great, that's the software covered. Now where are they going to find the massive data centres, thousands of computers to run it on and the time to actually turn that software into a coherent replacement for AWS, GCP and Azure?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Internet != Web

        Cut off the life support of enhancements, updates, and bug fixes, from the software ecosystem and soon the "clones" will start to diverge. Not to mention become vulnerable to security holes which quickly get fixed in the "real thing".

        Servicing customers world-wide the Iron firewall walled cloud will be a second rate experience compared with the real thing.

        Alibaba does not offer the panoply of services that the Big three cloud companies offer, and it is a moving target.

        Of course open source can be used. However Complex enterprise software systems are slow and costly to convert, and the effort requires highly skilled personnel. Much enterprise software depends on proprietary source code.

        Some Cloud migrations are simple, some are not. For those users of SAAS, they won't even have their own source code and the service offerings may not meet the needs.

        The petroleum business in particular has a very proprietary, closed approach to everything they do in their business. Migration isn't something that can be taken for granted, especially from closed source to open source.

        Google translate, google maps, google earth , just to name a few, will be something very difficult to migrate.

        By the way, to operate a public web server in China requires a government license. So china will have a another leash on those Russian enterprises who migrate, along with a contact list.

        Much open source software has terms of service. Are war crimes and terrorism compatible with them?

        Are forced government restrictions compatible with them?

        1. Stoneshop

          Re: Internet != Web

          Even during the cold war, with no generic networks between both sides of the Iron Curtain, and strict export controls on Western tech, including info and software, the USSR managed to build copies of a fair part of Digital's PDP series, and later a couple of their VAXes. Quite likely other manufacturers' gear as well

          And do you really think a rogue state cares one whit about terms of service and software licenses? They don't care about human rights violations, why would they respect usage clauses?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Your forgot about how upstream providers impose sanctions

    You forgot to mention how upstream providers force their customers to impose sanctions.

    If your bank won't accept payments from or send payments to anyone in Russia, than you can't serve Russian customers or pay Russian vendors.

    So many of these companies have stopped services in Russia not out of any good will, but because they were forced to anyway.

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