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Someone Used a Former NATO Bunker As an Illegal Data Center

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

We don't usually envy screenwriters. When the Associated Press reports that German police "shut down a data processing center installed in a former NATO bunker that hosted sites dealing in drugs and other illegal activities," however, we can't help but imagine how easy it'd be to write that script.

The bunker in question was found in a town called Traben-Trarbach in Germany. Seven of the 13 people being investigated by German police for their involvement with the bunker were arrested Friday because they were deemed flight risks. All 13 were suspected of "being accessories to hundreds of thousands of offenses involving drugs, counterfeit money and forged documents" as well as "being accessories to the distribution of child pornography."

Whoever operated the bunker appeared to be a fixture of many illicit sites. The AP said the bunker hosted a drug-dealing site called Cannabis Road as well as the Wall Street Market that was known as "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." Other sites used to sell and distribute illegal goods, including child porn, were hosted in the data center.

The bunker's operators were also said to have launched a botnet attack on Deutsche Telekom, a German telecommunications company, in late 2016. That attack "knocked out about 1 million customers' routers." These activities are just what the investigators have revealed to the press; there's no telling what else happened in that bunker that hasn't been publicly disclosed. (Or potentially even discovered by German law enforcement.)

This kind of thing usually only happens in movies. Now that we know it was happening in one NATO bunker, though, it's hard not to wonder if other well-fortified buildings serve a similar purpose. We suspect the reality is worse than whatever scores of screenwriters would deem plausible enough to write.

  • bit_user
    Maybe I'm just imagining this, but I seem to recall hearing about abandoned missile silos being used for datacenters, as well.

    Anyway, their big mistake was putting it in an EU country. IIRC, Iceland has robust information freedom guarantees, if you want someplace that's still reasonably well governed. But, there have got to be lots of places where governments would look the other way, as long as you know whose pockets to line. And, of course, there are always places like Russia, Iran, and North Korea.
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