After Cogent, backbone provider Lumen is also withdrawing from Russia. Cloudflare does not but says it will increase its protection and limit who will still operate it.
Lumen, like Cogent, is a backbone provider and announces that it will stop in Russia. However, it itself nuances that its digital and physical presence in the country is ‘very limited’. It points to increased security risks in Russia as the main reason, although it has not yet noticed any network disruptions itself.
Cloudflare says that it will remain, both in Russia and Ukraine, but with a lot of measures. For example, important encryption material has been taken from Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian data centres, which is applied remotely.
The encryption itself is now done there with Keyless SSL technology, whereby encrypted sessions are closed via a data centre in a secure region.
Another measure is that equipment in the three countries mentioned above will automatically break down as soon as the power or internet connection is lost. The data in those data centres is encrypted, but the key is not stored on-site.
Furthermore, Cloudflare says it saw more digital attacks against Ukraine before the raid, but also that it remains active for the more than 60 organizations in the attacked country. A quarter of that is new since the war started. In addition, Cloudflare says it offers its services for free to organizations in the country that want more digital protection.
There are no plans to stop in Russia, which many companies announced last week. However, there is often a ‘but’ to add. For example, Cloudflare does follow the sanctions imposed, which means that various banks, the government or players behind influence campaigns are no longer welcome. New customers in the region will also no longer receive paid access to their networks and systems.
When asked why the company won’t stop completely in Russia, it says it has discussed this with experts to weigh everything up, and there Cloudflare concludes that Russia just needs more internet access.
It points out that the Russian government has often threatened to block certain company services, but it could just be a useful player in giving Russians access to the global internet, or whatever else, after blocking by the government remains. Cloudflare, therefore, suspends its activities for organizations that are subject to international sanctions but remains active because it believes it can play a role in an open and safe internet.