Russia creating VirusTotal alternative to escape Western 'surveillance'

Russia is creating a national-level antivirus system, similar to VirusTotal, owned by Google’s subsidiary Chronicle.

Russian media reported that a working prototype of the solution, named Multiscanner, will be released this year. The antivirus is planned to operate at full capacity on a national level in 2025. Its purpose is to check internet traffic for the presence of malware.

According to Deputy Minister of the Russian Ministry of Digital Development and Communications, Alexander Shoitov, the solution is going to have broader capabilities than VirusTotal, which analyzes suspicious files and links for the presence of viruses, worms, trojans, and other malicious programs.

Russian version will include “both hardware and software parts” and will be integrated into the digital state’s services. Reportedly, Multiscanner will be able to remotely check files and links for malware using static and behavioral analysis. It identifies suspicious behavior and relationships between objects, searches for similar items, and provides threat context.

Alexey Vishnyakov, head of the malware detection department at Positive Technologies (a company sanctioned by the US and EU), said to Russian media outlet RG that a national solution is needed, as VirusTotal servers are located in the jurisdiction of the US and are accessible to US law enforcement, which could go against interests and laws of Russian Federation.

“VirusTotal is not just a threat analyzer, but, first of all, a repository of this data. It has a large amount of information about users, including confidential information,” he said. The system is being developed at the National Technology Center for Digital Cryptography, involving multiple Russian companies and organizations as part of the Digital Economy national project.

Russia’s quest for its own internet

Censorship has pushed Russia to introduce a variety of home-grown alternatives to Western products. Russia long ago created an analog of Facebook (Vkontakte), Google’s analog (Yandex search engine), and an Android app store named RuStore, developed with the support of Russia's Ministry of Digital Development and Communications.

The Russian internet space, known as Runet, is managed by state laws. Since 2019, internet providers have had to reroute traffic to state-approved exchange points managed by Russia’s communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor.

In 2018, a bill was introduced in the State Duma, initiating discussions about the Russian government's increased control over the national internet infrastructure. This aimed to ensure rapid isolation during security incidents, which involved establishing a national DNS in Russia and assigning Roskomnadzor the responsibility of maintaining the stability of Runet.

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