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Germany shuts down dark web data centre running out of ex-NATO bunker

Written by Mon 30 Sep 2019

Data centre hosted sites selling drugs, weapons, fake documents, stolen data and illegal pornography

German investigators said they have closed down a data centre in a former NATO bunker that was used to host sites dealing in drugs and other illegal activities.

The bunker was acquired in 2013 and managed by a 59-year-old Dutch man who transformed it into a secure data centre for running bulletproof hosting services, prosecutor Juegen Bauer told reporters.

Bauer said the man had links to organised crime and made the services available exclusively for illegal purposes. Although he was registered as having moved to Singapore the man spent most of his time in the vicinity of the data centre.

Bulletproof hosting providers are considerably more lenient than typical hosting providers in the material they allow customers to upload and distribute, and specialise in concealing illicit activities from authorities, making them a haven for criminals trading stolen data, illegal pornography and drugs.

The 3.2-acre property was located in Traben-Trarbach, a picturesque town on the Mosel River. The area was surrounded by a barb wire fence and third-party material was constantly monitored by video surveillance.

According to some sources, the facility was home to some 2,000 servers hosting dark web websites. Empty racks were reportedly discovered suggesting the provider was planning on expanding its service. During the raid, 650 law enforcement agents seized 200 servers, along with documents, mobile phones and cash.

The facility supported platforms including “Cannabis Road,” a drug-dealing portal; the “Wall Street Market,” one of the world’s largest online criminal marketplaces for drugs, hacking tools and financial-theft wares until it was taken down earlier this year; and “Orange Chemicals”, which dealt in synthetic drugs.

The data centre was also the launchpad for cyber attacks, including the botnet attack on German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom in late 2016 that knocked out about 1 million customers’ routers.

While it is not illegal for data centres to host illegal material in Germany, the prosecutors were able to prove that the operators knew of its customers’ criminal dealings.

13 are suspected of taking part in the operation, aged between 20 and 59. Six men and one woman were arrested under the suspicion of a criminal organization that facilitated the distribution and storage of illegal content.

Written by Mon 30 Sep 2019


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