Russia creates its own TLS certificate authority to circumvent sanctions

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Russia’s Ministry of Digital Development has declared its own TLS certificate authority to circumvent sanctions against the country. Because many foreign parties no longer renew such certificates, Russian sites can be blocked by browsers.

Website owners have to renew the transport layer security certificate roughly every year. On the other hand, trade with foreign parties is often no longer possible due to the various sanctions against Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. The Russian security certificate based on its own certificate authority must still keep sites accessible in this way.

The problem is that it can take a long time for browsers to include a new certificate authority in the list of trusted sources; first, other authorities and companies have to screen a certificate. For the time being, websites with a Russian security certificate are therefore only accessible via Russian browsers. According to Bleeping Computer, roughly 200 websites would use Russia’s own certificate at the time of writing.

Most browsers will warn you when entering a website that does not have a valid, widely accepted security certificate. This includes, for example, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Safari and Firefox. The accompanying warning screen might put off an average user. It is not known whether companies behind popular browsers plan to continue blocking websites with the Russian TLS certificate. Users can usually also label a certificate as reliable, although there may be security risks associated with this because of its Russian origin.