Russia blocks ProtonMail and ProtonVPN

(Image credit: ProtonVPN)
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UPDATE: Proton Technologies has told TechRadar Pro that ProtonVPN is not blocked in Russia, and has suggested users connect via one of its servers outside of Russia to access ProtonMail. The company added it is reaching out to, "the appropriate authorities" to get the block lifted as soon as possible. 

The Russian government has blocked access to Proton Technologies end-to-end encrypted email service ProtonMail (opens in new tab) as well as to the company's VPN service ProtonVPN (opens in new tab) for failing to comply with local laws.

In a press release (opens in new tab), Russia's telecommunications watchdog Roskomnadzor explained why it decided to block access to the company's services, saying:

“This email service was used by cybercriminals both in 2019 and especially actively in January 2020 to send false messages about the massive mining of objects in the Russian Federation under the guise of reliable information. The company responded with a categorical refusal to Roskomnadzor’s repeated requests for information to be included in the register of information dissemination organizers on the Internet. Information about the administrators of the mailboxes used to send threats has not been provided.”

Last year Russia passed a new law which requires all VPN providers to sign up for a government system that helps facilitate the sharing of information between the companies and its security services. However, Proton Technologies, as well as many other VPN providers, refused to register its services with state authorities and this is why the recent block on ProtonMail and ProtonVPN was put in place by Roskomnadzor.

Bypassing the block

Proton Technologies provided further details on how its services are currently down in Russia in an incident report on its status page (opens in new tab), which reads:

“We have received reports that Proton is currently blocked in Russia. We are reaching out to the appropriate authorities to get the block lifted as soon as possible. This block affects ProtonMail and ProtonVPN users who were not logged in before the block was implemented. For now, we recommend using the TOR network (via the TOR Browser) to access our services.”

In addition to trying to have the block lifted as quickly as possible, the company also provided users with a workaround in the form of the TOR Browser though users who were already logged on before the block went into place will still be able to access its services.

Now that Roskomnadzor has blocked ProtonVPN, we could see the Russian telecommunications watchdog take action against other VPN services currently operating in the country.

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Via BleepingComputer (opens in new tab)

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.