Kremlin's weaknesses in IT: analysis of Western software and its impact on Russian critical systems.

17:15, 02.02.2024

The Yermak-McFaul International Expert Group presented a document containing a detailed analysis of critical software facilitating Russian aggression in Ukraine. Russia utilizes Western programs for the production of munitions, military systems, efficient oil and gas processing, and to bolster global revenues supporting its military operations. Western databases, analytics, artificial intelligence, and cloud technologies contribute to supporting the Russian economy. The document partially reveals active networks in key government and industrial sectors in Russia. 

  • Military-Industrial Complex 

Russia's military and law enforcement agencies heavily rely on interconnected software systems based on Red Hat Linux. These systems play a crucial role in both Russia's military and civilian infrastructure, illustrating the intricate nature of the Russian software industry. 

Furthermore, systems like Neutrino, Alt 8 SP, Astra Linux, and RED OS underscore the sector's reliance on specialized software, some of which involve international cooperation. Targeted sanctions against these software systems and their developers could significantly impact Russia's capabilities. 

  • Energy Sector 

The Russian energy industry relies on Western software, including Roxar RMS, Paradigm, Landmark Engineer's Desktop, and STARS. These tools play a crucial role in optimizing natural resource and underground deposit management strategies. Despite sanctions, these software products remain accessible in Russia through local representatives and intermediaries. Essentially, the capabilities of Western companies are being utilized to enhance the profitability of the Russian energy sector. 

Profits generated by companies continuing operations with Russia not only contribute to the destruction of Ukrainian cities, infrastructure, and civilian casualties but also far surpass any commercial benefits these companies might derive from Russian contracts. 

  • Financial Sector 

Russian banks heavily depend on database management systems (DBMS) such as Oracle Database and Microsoft SQL Server. With both companies discontinuing operations in Russia, banks faced a halt in upgrades, leading them to explore alternatives like Diasoft Database Adapter and Nexign Nord. Simultaneously, the absence of Russian counterparts for SAS and IBM analytical systems has prompted the consideration of alternatives such as Digital Q.Reporting and Polymatica, highlighting the intricate nature of the transition period in the Russian banking sector. 

  • Import Substitution and Sanctions 

The Russian financial sector grapples with the challenge of incomplete import substitution of key system software, with only 3% of systemically important enterprises and 1.7% of critical infrastructure facilities having fully transitioned. 

Russian banks heavily rely on American virtualization solutions from VMware and Citrix. The withdrawal of US companies has triggered a quest for alternatives to mitigate potential functionality losses. Sanctions targeting database management systems (DBMSs), server hardware, analytical systems, virtualization systems, and information security platforms could significantly impact Russia's funding for the war. 

Despite the Kremlin's endeavors to reduce dependence on Western software in the military-industrial complex, energy, and financial sectors, the transition is sluggish. This slow progress creates substantial opportunities to undermine Russia's military and economic activities, emphasizing the need for swift and unified action to exploit these vulnerabilities.