Tag Archives: spy

I noticed in the news this week that a possible Russian spy has been working at Microsoft and couldn't help thinking about a post I made last month.

My post "Did the Russians take Bing?" is about a two month old, PR2 domain name owned by an individual in Saint-Petersburg Russia and pointing at a Microsoft IP. According to reports, the alleged spy had a menial job at Microsoft yet attended Saint Petersburg Polytechnical University, one of the top schools in Russia. As it turns out the domain in my post is registered to an address located only a few miles from Saint Petersburg Polytechnical University.

The two month old domain had a PR of 2 and looked identical to Bing at the time but, is totally different now. Users could easily have mistaken this "site" for Bing. In fact, when I first arrived, I thought the site was Bing. What caught my eye was that Google was driving users and potentially market share to Bing. In fact, I arrived on the site by clicking on an organic result at Google. Sure, I know folks try anything and everything to trick or game Google but, this just seemed like an odd case and really stood out to me for some reason.

The domain was little more than a Bing mirror owned by someone other than Microsoft but, now has a PR 5 and 1,000,000 pages indexed. Since my post, the domain has been pointed away from a Bing IP at another US based IP which is shared by another domain which is... you guessed it, registered to someone else in Saint-Petersburg. I've attempted to contact both owners to see if there is a spy connection but haven't received a reply.

Is this a case of international espionage, a clandestine communication channel uncovered or just total coincidence and an unusual spam technique that appears to be working at least on some levels? I'm not sure, but I think it's an interesting situation either way and perhaps even worth further investigation….