What Does Russian Cert Authority Mean?

To avoid sanctions after Ukraine invasion, Moscow has set up its own certificate authority to issue TLS certs. As announced in government’s website, certificates will be made available to Russian websites unable to renew or obtain security certificates as a knock-on effect of Western sanctions and organizations refusing to support Russian customers.

It will replace the foreign security certificate if it is revoked or expires. The Ministry of Digital Development will provide a free domestic analogue. The service is provided to legal entities – site owners upon request within 5 working days.

In order to securely view a website where a certificate is used, the certificate authority must be recognized by the browser used. However, Russia is silent on which browsers will accept the certs. Considering the heavy sanctions against Russia, it seems unlikely that any browser will support certificates approved by the Russian certificate authority. But then, why was this certificate authority established?

Russia has a good alternative as browser. Yandex is local alternative for Google and YaBrowser of Yandex will likely support this certificate authority. This means, YaBrowser users can visit websites has a certificate approved by Russian certificate authority.

The certificate includes information about the key, information about the identity of its owner (called the subject), and the digital signature of an entity that has verified the certificate’s contents (called the issuer). If the signature is valid, and the software examining the certificate trusts the issuer, then it can use that key to communicate securely with the certificate’s subject (Wikipedia). The key element in digital certificates is ‘trust’. In several news portals, this Russian certificate authority news was considered dangerous because if the certificate authority will be under Putin’s control, that means Russian government can intercept and decrypt all traffic and surely, this situation violates the privacy of the users and provides more control over internet users in Russia.

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