Web

Russia’s attempt to block Telegram crashes the country’s internet

telegram
Pixabay

Earlier this month, a Russian court gave regulators the authority to block Telegram, a popular encrypted messaging app that’s used not only by an estimated 13 million Russian users but Kremlin officials as well.

It was like releasing a bull in a china shop — or a bear in the Russian Tea Room.

As government officials tried to pull the plug on Telegram, the company responded by repeatedly switching IP addresses, encouraging users to rely on VPNs, and moving to American hosts Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services. After playing what the New York Times called “whack-a-mole” with thousands of individual IP addresses, the regulatory agency Roskomnadzor ham-handedly began blacking out entire subnets.

The entire Russian internet quickly spiraled into chaos, with hundreds of unrelated businesses unable to access the web. Among those affected was Viber, a Kremlin-approved messaging service, as well as museums, car dealerships, and schools.

Tanya Lokot, an expert on Russian digital media, explained in an interview with Slate that the clumsy nature of enforcement by Roskomnadzor is not unusual. “There have been a lot of complaints against Roskomnadzor because they do a lot of arbitrary blocking,” she said. “In Russia, I don’t think anybody is terrified of Roskomnadzor in terms of the power it has. People are more terrified of its incompetence.”

Telegram is quite popular in Russia because of its encryption. Legislation introduced in 2016 mandated that all messaging services needed to provide back-door access to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).

Maria V. Alyokhina, a member of the band Pussy Riot, which has been a thorn in the Kremlin’s side for several years, spearheaded a public protest against the ban. Demonstrators littered the sidewalk in front of the FSB with paper airplanes, the corporate symbol of Telegram.

The country has previously attempted to make all internet communication companies store their information on Russian servers, and even suggested that Russia might disconnect from the rest of the world and create its own internet.

Some experts fear this could be a warm-up act for blocking even high-profile companies. “The Kremlin could safely move on to block Facebook or Twitter,” Russian intelligence expert Andrei Soldatov wrote in a tweet. “Political costs cannot be higher than now. I hope it was not the plan all along.”

Lokot agreed. “They’re willing to go this far to basically shut down half of the Russian internet and disrupt the work of so many other companies, including Google, Microsoft, Adobe, and a bunch of Russian companies,” she said.

Mobile

Is the Apple Card any better than a regular credit card? We asked an expert

The new Apple Card is integrated with your iPhone and comes with a titanium backup card for places that don’t accept Apple Pay, but how does it stack up against the competition? We asked some experts to find out.
Mobile

Text up a storm with the best messaging apps for iOS and Android

These days, most people tend to favor digital messages over phone calls. We have the best messaging apps that allow you to share photos and documents, send text messages, and more with end-to-end encryption.
Deals

Protect your new Prime Day devices with IPVanish VPN, on sale until Sunday

If you scored a new device during Prime Day, then you'll want to protect your tech with a good VPN like IPVanish. IPVanish has extended its Prime Day week sale through the weekend, too, making now the best time to sign up and save 63%
Computing

Use one of these password managers to help protect yourself online

The internet can be a scary place, especially if you don't have a proper password manager. This guide will show you the best password managers you can get right now, including both premium and free options.
Web

Dirty deeds are uncovered dirt cheap with these online background check resources

There are plenty of reasons for carrying out a background check, and not all of them are creepy. Here are several methods to run a background check on someone online, whether you need to vet a potential hire or a new babysitter.
Cars

Carbuying can be tiring: Here are the best used car websites to make it easier

Shopping for a used car isn't easy, especially when the salesman is looking to make a quick sale. Thankfully, there are plenty of sites aimed at the prospective buyer, whether you're looking for a sedan or a newfangled hybrid.
News

Expedia warns travelers of customer service refund scam

Scammers are posing as employees of Expedia to take money from unknowing consumers. Expedia Group and the Better Business Bureau teamed up to warn consumers of these scams that have been reported within the last several days.
News

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 50th anniversary of the moon landing

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s lunar landing, Google has created an interactive Google Doodle that takes users to the moon. The Google Doodle, made in partnership with NASA, features a short illustrated video…
Computing

Slack is resetting user passwords in response to a 2015 data breach

In response to recently discovered information regarding a 2015 data breach, collaboration software company Slack will be resetting the passwords of some of its user accounts beginning July 18.
News

These 6 popular browser extensions are selling your data

Some popular browser extensions are collecting and selling your data, according to a a new investigation. The extensions in question are Hover Zoom, SpeakIt!, SuperZoom, SaveFrom.net Helper, FairShare Unlock and PanelMeasurement.
Computing

Lose the key for your favorite software? These handy tools can find it for you

Missing product keys getting you down? We've chosen some of the best software license and product key finders in existence, so you can locate and document your precious keys on your Windows or MacOS machine.
Small Business

The 15 best tech jobs boast top salaries, high satisfaction, lots of openings

The bonanza of tech jobs just keeps coming. High-paying tech jobs abound at companies where people love to work. If you’re ready to make a change, this is a great time to look for something more fulfilling.   
Computing

Gmail's unsend email feature is one of its best. Here's how to use it

Everyone has sent a message they wish they could take back. How great would it be if you could undo that impulsive email? If you're a Gmail user, you can. Here's how to recall an email in Gmail.
Computing

How to change your Gmail password whenever you want in just a few quick steps

Regularly updating your passwords is a good way to stay secure online, but each site and service has their own way of doing it. Here's a quick guide on how to change your Gmail password in a few short steps.