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2010-05-02
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"Legit" Russian Entry Points Into Your Computer

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Tagged As: Hacking, Privacy, and Security

ICQ was once one of the more popular instant messaging applications in the United States, but eventually gave way to AOL IM and Microsoft's juggernaut push of MSN. Although no longer a dominant force in America, ICQ has remained popular in Eastern Europe, Israel, Russia and a number of other markets. Originally purchased by AOL to integrate ICQ's users into its own network, the software company has recently been purchased by Russia's Digital Sky Technologies for $187.5 million. Normally, that would be of no interest unless you look a little closer at Digital Sky Technology, a company influenced heavily by major share holder Alisher Usmanov. He is a colorful character that spent several years in a Russian prison for embezzlement and extortion by a military tribunal in the '80s. His later release for good behavior was followed soon after with an acquaintance with a KGB intelligence officer which coincidentally coincided with his rise to fortune (and investment habits with the signatures of money-laundering and organized crime). Needless to say, the Russians are notorious for spying on their own people and having financial influence over a key stakeholder who owns the nation's most dominant instant messaging service certainly makes that pretty easy. Digital Sky Technologies also has a growing interest in FaceBook with at least $300 million recently invested through employee stock purchases along with a controlling stake in Zygna (ironically yes of MafiaWars fame), FaceBook's largest advertiser. One simply needs to wonder whether it no longer takes a hack, rather your computer will be compromised by your own web habits due to casual alignments between foreign intelligence, organized crime and normal business investment with a country known for its notorious botnets, malware and identity theft.


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