The emergency internet bunkers
Visitors aren’t welcome, clients can’t visit, and even the authorities are kept at bay; it’s as close to impregnable as any hosting facility is likely to get. It’s even been put to the test.
“City Hall wanted, for some reason beyond our understanding, to prevent us from having a datacenter in the bunker,” CyberBunker’s Jordan Robson told us. “According to them we were using the bunker in violation of the zoning, which is military. After we dragged City Hall to court and won the trial, it attempted – without much success – to break down our first set of blast doors. After several hours of futile attempts we decided to ask what it was they actually wanted. It appeared they came to inspect the bunker in order to see if there was anything else besides servers, in order to prevent us from having a datacenter.
City Hall wanted, for some reason beyond our understanding, to prevent us from having a datacenter in the bunker
“For obvious reasons, we’ve adopted a policy not to let anyone in. However, we decided to make an exception and showed them around. Besides our humming servers, there wasn’t much else to discover. City Hall has paid for the damages they inflicted on our blast doors and haven’t bothered us again.”
Such security doesn’t come cheap. Hosting accounts start at €100 or €125 a month for Linux or Windows servers respectively, and attracts a €200 setup fee, but those fees buy you peace of mind, and anonymity.
“Most customers desire to stay anonymous,” said Robson. “In some cases, we don’t even know who our customers are. We simply don’t care. Whoever the customers are, it’s our business to keep them online.”
The CyberBunker Foundation is as strong a shield for its customers’ interests as the bunker itself is for its servers. “CyberBunker doesn’t respond to threats by anyone,” Robson said, outlining how it protects its customers from others who’d like to take servers down, such as the DMCA, competitors, authorities, burglars, governments, terrorists – and how it even offers protection against civil war.
CyberBunker’s mailing address is a postal box in Goes, a town in the south-western Netherlands that gives away little about the bunker’s physical location.
Although some servers are present on-site, it’s by no means clear that all of its clients are hosted within the bunker, as CyberBunker’s proprietary routing system disguises a site’s actual physical location.
1&1, BADEN AIRPARK
Step across Netherlands’ eastern border and you’ll find yourself in a country dominated by one provider: 1&1.
Hosting a third of all German websites and half of the country’s email, 1&1 maintains servers in Karlsruhe and at a former NATO base at Baden Airpark, the one-time home of a nuclear weapons cache.
The Karlsruhe building could easily pass for a government ministry, with concrete slabs concealing some impressive technology. Biometric detectors, motion sensors and a hypersensitive laser particle detection system monitor the air in its server rooms.
A series of batteries and five 16-cylinder back-up diesel engines mounted on its roof guarantee continuation of service, and even if a strike should take out the building – including its 25,000 servers – a geo-redundancy system would pick up the pieces. Karlsruhe is part of a global RAID, whose servers are mirrored around the world.
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