Russia blocks ProtonMail

Image Credit: Proton (Image credit: Image Credit: Proton)

Update: A ProtonMail spokesperson provided us with the following statement on the current situation in Russia: "We can confirm that the Russian government is attempting to block ProtonMail. We have implemented some measures to minimize the impact of the block and services are currently running normally again in Russia. We are keeping a close eye on the situation."

Original story follows below....

Russian authorities have ordered internet providers in the country to enforce a block against the encrypted email provider ProtonMail.

The state Federal Security Service, which was once the KGB, ordered the block after accusing the company and several other email providers of facilitating bomb threats after several anonymous bomb threats were sent to police in late January.

Overall, 26 different internet addresses were blocked by Russian authorities including several servers used to connect to the Tor network. 

The country's internet providers were ordered to immediately implement the block through the use of a technique known as BG blackholing which tells a router to discard internet traffic instead of routing it to its destination.

ProtonMail block

While ProtonMail users in Russia are no longer able to send or receive email, the company's site still loads because two of its servers listed in the government's order were for its back-end mail delivery system while its front-end website runs on a different system.

ProtonMail's chief executive Andy Yen explained how the block works in an email to TechCrunch, saying:

“ProtonMail is not blocked in the normal way, it’s actually a bit more subtle. They are blocking access to ProtonMail mail servers. So — and most other Russian mail servers — for example, is no longer able to deliver email to ProtonMail, but a Russian user has no problem getting to their inbox.”

According to Yen, the block coincides with citizen protests against the Russian government's plans to restrict how information online flows in and out of the country through an internet kill switch. The Kremlin however has defended its plan which it claims is to protect the country's infrastructure in the event of a cyberattack.

Via TechCrunch

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.