Ukraine wants to block software updates from Russia. The problem: Moscow prefers the free

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The one in Ukraine could be the first major war in Europe in more than 70 years, since World War II. At the moment, it stands out for another peculiarity, well defined despite the fact that the Russian troops began their offensive just over 72 hours ago: the strategic role technology will play. Before the tanks were launched on Donbas, the country registered cyberattacks and the role of the networks has already caused a clash between Moscow and Facebook. Aware of this scenario, Ukraine has moved to punish Russia: it has asked the US, among other retaliation, cut off software updates coming from your country.

The problem? That Moscow takes time betting on free software.

Volodymyr Zelensky’s government has drawn up a list of 14 measures with which he proposes that the United States put pressure on Moscow. His proposals go beyond export controls or the expulsion of ambassadors from the Kremlin. Kiev has asked the Joe Biden administration to directly ban US companies that supply and update software “in the interests of Russian consumers.” The memorandum calls for the hardware and software faucet to be cut off from the oil, gas, coal, mining and nuclear power sectors.

More than ten years on the hunt for “cyber-sovereignty”

The request is not free. The US is home to some of the big techs, many of them software providers. Without updates, their systems could not be updated and that would prevent them from keeping their users’ data safe. It happens with Windows, for example, one of the most used operating systems. Every time the company releases a new version it warns —remember from Genbetta— that the old ones no longer have protection and support. No updates, systems lacking security patches would be easier to hack.

Ukraine’s proposal does not catch Russia off guard. The truth is that Moscow has been promoting the use of open source software in the country for just over a decade. In 2010, the Government of Vladimir Putin advanced a plan for the implementation of free software, including Linux, on government computers. As detailed then from the federation, their plans were to develop their own license and complete the migration process in less than five years, by 2015.

What would the world and technology be like today without free software and without the ideas of Richard Stallman?

In the middle of 2019 —in full controversy of the “Huwaei case”– also transcended Russia’s intention to follow in China’s footsteps and change Windows as the operating system on the computers in your army. Its replacement: Astra Linux, an exclusive distribution of the open source system. In that direction, the Duma, the country’s main legislative chamber, approved at the end of the same year a bill that required that from July 2020 it be pre-installed software developed in Russia in the devices that are marketed in the country. The measure was proposed for a wide list of devices, from smartphones and PCs, to tablets or even smart TVs.

“The majority [de los dispositivos electrónicos complejos] include pre-installed software, mostly western […]. If, along with it, we start offering Russian software to users as well, we will give them the right to choose,” argued then one of its promoters.

Russia joins China in its decision to remove Windows from its military computers, only that they will bet on Linux

Against this background, cybersecurity experts such as Dmitri Alperovitch question whether Ukraine’s proposal can be effective. Speaking to Vice, explained, for example, how it is likely to drive the Russian government “further” towards open source. Others, such as Lukasz Olejnik, point out that it could be effective and would generate “long-term consequences”; but he warns: “Russia has long developing their cyber sovereignty considering this risk.

For now, US sanctions on Russia will limit Russia’s access to foreign technology.

Via | Genbeta

Cover image | GovernmentZA (Flickr)

The one in Ukraine could be the first major war in Europe in more than 70 years, since World War…

The one in Ukraine could be the first major war in Europe in more than 70 years, since World War…

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