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Germany shuts down illegal data center in former NATO bunker (apnews.com)
174 points by bartkappenburg 18 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 93 comments



> “I think it’s a huge success ... that we were able at all to get police forces into the bunker complex, which is still secured at the highest military level,” Kunz said. “We had to overcome not only real, or analog, protections; we also cracked the digital protections of the data center.”

This sentence is the punchline. I'm guessing they mean they were able to image the disks and capture memory while they were running unencrypted?


I imagine the physical protections were not trivial to overcome either. In Germany you don't have to assist police as long as you don't actively obstruct them. If they come with a warrant you can't shut the door in their face, but you are not forced to open a closed door either. Normally not a big deal, after a few knocks the police breaks open the door. The government selling off bunkers with doors designed to withstand nuclear explosions throws a bit of a wrench in that concept.


This appears to be cyberbunker/cb3rob http://www.cb3rob.org/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CyberBunker

It's not exactly their first rodeo, but certainly the most significant challenge so far.

FWIW I've hosted with these guys before and used their servers for scanning the internet, they did not allow that.


I'm surprised at how theatrical the notice of seizure is. Would not have expected that from our usually exceedingly sober law enforcement.


It has also seals of Swedish and Luxembourgois police on there, so I'd wager that's the note they put up themselves, not law enforcement.


It looks incredibly fake. I wonder if there's a collection somewhere of these real website seizure notices.


Perfectly in keeping with current seizure notices. The current fashion seems to go completely overboard with agency badging.

The couple of UK ones I saw crop up recently have a cliche "hacker in hat and trench coat" silhouette on similar blue backdrop, in place of the Matrix world map thing.

https://www.pcmag.com/news/366221/feds-shut-down-marketplace...


Interesting that the Belgian Federal Computer Crime Unit has a unicorn in its logo.


I believe that in heraldry, the unicorn is symbolic of courage. Maybe that’s why?


It's pretty common, sometimes you'll see multiple countries claiming the takedown and have a few different crests.


that background reminds me of the matrix


>In September 2019, the German police stormed and shut down a data center in a bunker near Traben-Trarbach, which is also supposed to belong to the company. Seven suspects were arrested.[9] Almost all sites of the website are not longer accessible since then.

I have long time family friends who were working at that Trauben-Trarbach datacenter since at least 2015. I pray and hope they are ok.


A few years back, they claimed to have withstood a SWAT raid.

https://web.archive.org/web/20190427013216/https://cyberbunk...


That was in Holland, years ago. They too have been dismantled.


Yet again life is providing more "entertainment" than in the movies. Pics please?


Here are some pics also from the inside and a short video: https://www.rheinpfalz.de/lokal/artikel/rheinland-pfalz-lka-...


I've been inside there. That glowing computer with many screens - I've stood right there in that very same spot. On the wall in that room is a big map of Afganistan, a place NATO was gathering intelligence on while the Soviets were invading long ago. The pics show about 10% of the facility... I remember when that datacenter part was still under construction, back in 2015.



Paywalled Link to Germany's worst tabloid


>The main suspect in the long-running investigation that led to raids on Thursday is a 59-year-old Dutchman who authorities believe acquired the former military bunker in Traben-Trarbach

I'm shocked because I've been given a tour of this datacenter by the man's sons, whose mother is friends with my grandmother, and whom I have known since a very young age. Like, the mother, the sons, my mother, my grandmother, and me, all toured a 6-levels deep NATO bunker & the surrounding buildings. It was an amazing sight to see. They did not talk much about what they were doing there, only that it was meant to be a secure datacenter. Their mom was just so happy that the father and sons were finally working together on something lucrative, and that they had a place to live (the bunker & surrounding buildings had a lot of facilities).

By the time of the tour, which was 2015, I hadn't seen them for several years. Catching up, I told them that I had a career a US federal gov contractor working in cyber security - to them, and I didn't realize it at the time, this was probably a red flag. I wanted to talk a lot about cyber sec stuff, but they seemed oddly quiet. Shortly after the visit, they went out of touch with my family. The final connection we had was one Facebook account belonging to the youngest kid - probably the 20yo one mentioned in the article. It seemed odd to me that he didn't use his real name, but now I understand why. It's been deleted.

These kids had an interesting backstory. Their mother was a black woman from the Dutch colony Curaçao. She met the father sometime during or before the 90s. Their children were mixed race, and were never accepted by their grandparents, who allegedly were Nazi-affiliated. The prospect of marriage fell apart, and this single mother had to raise the two sons on her own. Living in Westervoort nearby Arnhem, she met and struck up a close friendship with my grandmother, who became kind of a surrogate grandmother for those kids.

That NATO bunker is built upon a spot where Nazis would have used it during WWII. I thought it was an amazing turn of the tables for a black woman who was scorned by Nazis to now have a claim to it.

I had pictures of the inside of that NATO bunker, which was amazing to see, but the iPhone they were stored on got stolen later that year. I wish I had them. If I'm lucky, some combing through DropBox might uncover a few.


I don't care if it's all real or not. The story plus your supplement makes me want not a movie but a multi million budget series.

And a phone containing pics stolen inside a govt z building... lol. It's almost too cliche.


>the iPhone they were stored on got stolen later thatbyear.

I wonder if that's correlated to the fact that you took pictures inside that bunker ;)


I doubt it. The phone was stolen in the US. Actually, it was stolen inside of one of the nicest gov buildings in Washington DC, which itself is really a shame. Most likley by the janitors, unfortunatley.


Honestly, the fact it was stolen inside a government building in Washington, DC makes me even more suspicious. You had some sort of evidence on that phone that someone else did not want to see.


That would make for an interesting story for sure.

The reality isn't so glamorous. The phone was stolen because I left it inside of a restroom stall. The particular restroom was one that's very secluded. Most people there didn't know about it, to the extent that, the only people I saw there with any regualrity were the janitors whose job was to routinely clean the place. Not sure what else to say besides that what you're suggesting is extremely unlikely.


the timeline doesn't seem to work.

Who were the kids with the difficult childhood? At 59 now his parents would be in their 70s-80s (if still alive today), so 2019-80y=born 1939 (five years old when the war ended).

They could have experienced basic Nazi education but not much more than that. Sure the Nazi beliefs didn't disappear with the end of the third Reich but difficult to really call them that if they were just your average 1960s racists.


>Who were the kids with the difficult childhood?

Obviously I'm not going to give you their names. It was two brothers. 90s kids.

As for the grandparents, I should have been more clear about some things. First, this is like 3rd-hand information. Secord, what I'm told by my grandmother for certian was the grandparents had racist, Nazi beliefs that led to the rejection of their grandkids. They weren't neccessarily literal Nazis from WW2.

I never asked those kids about these relationships, since it's really personal/private information. It could be that the mother made this story up to get my grandma's sympathies. It's also possible that the 59yo made this up purely to convince the mother that they couldn't have a marriage. It's also possible that it's all true, which is what I've believe. These scenarios of deception are what we might want to believe about people running a "Cyber Bunker," but honestly, I'd be proud to host TPB and WikiLeaks mirrors out of a former NATO Bunker too.


It’s also fairly common knowledge that many committed Nazis fled/emigrated from Germany in the immediate aftermath of WW2, and largely settled in South America. I think the majority of those ended up in Argentina or Brazil, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility to think that someone from Curaçao could have come into contact with the children of those people.


Would you not need an even larger legitimate datacenter to hide the operations of the illegal datacenter? I'm guessing the huge power draw from the grid and the redundant fiber trunks going to an old bunker will draw suspicions that somehow would need to be explained?


In principle all these bunkers are designed to be able to run on diesel generators, in some cases for 10+ years. I imagine the power requirements of a 1950s communications bunker and a modern datacenter are not too far apart.

But in reality it probably doesn't matter, I doubt you can get a search warrant based on "they use a lot of power and have great internet connection"


You reminded me of this story I read a while back about how an indoor pot farm was identified because the heat from the grow lights melted the snow on the roof and apparently in the Netherlands that was enough to get a warrant - https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/netherland...

While looking for that story, I came across a wiki article about a similar story in the US, although the police there used thermal imaging to identify the farm from outside the home. That was ruled that constitutes a search w/o a warrant in the US. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyllo_v._United_States I would suspect observing suspiciously melted roof snow in the US wouldn't violate the law like using thermal imaging would.

I don't know German law, but I could see how that could get you a search warrant if Dutch and American law are any indication.


Thankfully modern indoor operations will be using efficient LEDs to avoid those roof issues when you can’t vent all the time.


I’ve heard rumor of workers at my local electric company working as informers for the drug task force - they allegedly have reported residential users who have spikes of power usage that indicated that they might be being used as a grow operation.


So how much diesel do you have to store for doing that 10 years? The only problem I see is that if you cut the cable, the data center has no value anymore. And that cable has to be connected somewhere to the normal grid.


> So how much diesel do you have to store for doing that 10 years?

A lot, but probably less than you think. To provide one kilowatt of power continusly for 10 years you need about 23 million liters of diesel, which fits in a cube with 28 meter long walls.

A railway car of diesel can provide ~3W continously for 10 years. A tank the size of the Hindenburg could provide ~8kW for 10 years. The world's largest supertanker could carry enough diesel to provide ~22kW for 10 years.


Out of curiosity I googled "shelf life of diesel fuel" and found many sources suggesting 1 - 2 years is typical before it starts building up gums and settlement from reacting with oxygen -- but steps can be taken to last up to 10 years. Pretty interesting:

https://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp-country/en_au/media/fuel-n...


Strategic reserves and I assume these bunkers have tanks deep enough that geothermal heating causes convection currents, slowly stirring the contents. That seems to have a positive effect on shelf life as well.


But a datacenter with 200 servers might need on the order of 40KW, so that would be over 13,000 railway cars to last 10 years... Not very realistic. Now if you had a small nuclear reactor, on the other hand ;)


Why should it be a problem just saying you are running a datacenter at that place? If you are thinking about tax evasion or similar they probably had to deal with that anyhow. Also i am pretty sure running a datacenter even if it is home to some illegal activities is not illegal per se. As long as you do not actively assist in such activities or publicly announce support for such activities i think you are good.


Cyberbunker was always an odd one, they operated very openly. The existence of their bulletproof hosting business and it's curious location was never any secret.


For a long time CB claimed to still be hosted in the Dutch bunker even though they vacated long ago.


It can draw attention, but until the police has a reasonable excuse to look into the building, they can't.


They where very public about what they have been doing. The authorities knew they where hosting child porn it just took them 20 years to do something about it.


“We had to overcome not only real, or analog, protections; we also cracked the digital protections of the data center.”

This is a straight up movie script.


I can't seem to read this article, it keeps redirecting to apnews://open?link_click_id=70xxx which of course gives an ERR_UNKNOWN_URL_SCHEME.

Looking at the Wikipedia of Cyberbunker, I gather this is one of their bunkers, but not the main one in the Netherlands.


This is a real shame - among other things they had a great onion directory:

https://web.archive.org/web/20190107132850/http://cb3rob.org...


German news site "Der Spiegel" with images: https://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/web/darknet-rechenzentrum-er...


I grew up in that town (roughly 8000 ppl there) and would've never though someone there is capable of this.


It's a long story, but I've been inside that Bunker while they were setting it up in 2015. The datacenter was still under construction. It was a magnificent thing to see, and quite a surprise to find in such a peaceful little town.


thats so funny, its sleepy af there at the mosel river, perfect in the end to do it. Very near to that bunker theres a (popular with dutch people) recreational site on top of Mont Royal - guess they were making holidays there first :) My mother told me Traben Trarbach is always selling properties out of money issues


It's just down the road from the recreational site.


This related video by Norton is quite interesting

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CashAq5RToM


Who on earth sets up a shop like that in Germany?

Surely there are countries with more relaxed law enforcement.

Not that I condone any of this. Just surprised


The future is wild, criminal corporations running data centres... I wonder if anyone's hiring in Canada...


Drug cartels in Mexico & Central America have been found to be running heir own cellular phone networks. A rouge datacenter seems quaint in comparison.


So how do you connect a data center to the internet without anyone noticing?


Related:

Gotta love the dutch data center mentality. :)


From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CyberBunker

"In 2002, a fire broke out in the bunker from which they operated. After the fire was put out, it was discovered that besides internet hosting services, an MDMA laboratory was in operation"

Wow


I just hope this won't harm the actual availability of MDMA much. According to my experience, an evening spent on MDMA together with wife, talking and having sex (with help of viagra - erection is miserable on MDMA without it even if you are perfectly healthy) is worth by orders of magnitude more than years of psychotherapy or vacations. It's a miracle drug if used properly (incl. taking lots of strong antioxidants before it and never taking it more often than once in some months).

It also makes my arrhythmia-prone heart work like a Swiss clockwork, it's the only substance that can stop a heart attack reliably, the substances the doctor has prescribed me (e.g. propafenone) do nothing but make my heart attacks much much more frequent.


> is worth by orders of magnitude more than years of psychotherapy or vacations.

> it's the only substance that can stop a heart attack reliably,

and this is the sort of talk that I've heard from many smart people I've personally known who have fried their brains with psychedelics which is why I will never touch any of it.


They were not smart enough then, didn't do their homework studying reddit and psychonaut wiki and never were reasoably cautious. Everything can be a poison when you take too much, too often, in wrong combinations, without proper protective measures and with ignorance to your actual physical and mental health. Indeed, many people should not be allowed to to touch any medical substances, let alone psychedelics without a non-stop doctor control yet many others can be allowed safely.


> According to my experience, an evening spent on MDMA ... is worth by orders of magnitude more than years of psychotherapy or vacations

Are you saying MDMA is a good replacement for marriage therapy if you are having problems in your marriage? Or that MDMA is (in general) one of the best recreational activities married couples can do together?

Disclaimer: not a drug user.

In my biased non-drug-using opinion, sitting around high is a poor substitute for having actual experiences with your SO. I'm trying to imagine later in life what reminiscing would be like: "Remember all those times we sat around high and had sex? yeah, that was great". vs. "Remember that Barcelona trip? Yeah, that was crazy with the pickpocket kid..."


MDMA is a stimulant so it's more likely to promote dancing around than sitting around. MDMA also suppresses social inhibitions, so you're way more likely to talk about your feelings and dreams.

I also think you're setting up quite a bad comparison here. Why is it MDMA + sitting around vs. awesome stuff at Barcelona? How about actual experiences under MDMA vs. sitting in a hotel room in Barcelona? Ultimately MDMA just gives you energy and improves your mood. [1] Whether you decide to do anything interesting or sit around is based more on your character and less about whether you're under the influence of MDMA or not.

--

[1] MDMA is toxic at high doses and/or without rest. A good rule of thumb would be to not do it more than every two weeks.


While MDMA is a stimulant, its effect on the serotonin receptors is considerably more pronounced than the effects on noradrenaline and dopamine also found in most other available stimulants. The increased empathy, positivity and feeling of connectedness resulting from that are much more relevant to the experience described by the GP than mere stimulation.


> MDMA is a stimulant so it's more likely to promote dancing around than sitting around.

In my case it promotes lying in a bed, having sex and confiding everything to the one I actually trust and love. I would never like go outside. The only part of me saying I should try it on a rave once is purely intellectual curiosity, I don't actually want to. I'm 99% sure the only thing I'm going to want once it hits is to be left alone with my wife in a comfortable place where no one can disturb us.

> A good rule of thumb would be to not do it more than every two weeks.

Two weeks still seems a way too short interval though, I strongly recommend to rest at least 2 months, the more - the better.


> Why is it MDMA + sitting around vs. awesome stuff at Barcelona?

Pardon my ignorance, I only framed it the same way GP did ("an evening (presumably at home) doing MDMA" vs. "vacations")


I think a better comparison would be antidepressants. A common class of antideps are called SSRI -- selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. They have a similar mechanism to MDMA -- block the re-absorption of serotonin by neurons, so more serotonin is available for neurochemical processing.

Stimulants mainly act on the dopamine system, although MDMA might act on both systems: dopamine and serotonine.

-----

MDMA is also quite toxic in long-term usage.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3870191/


> MDMA is also quite toxic in long-term usage.

As well as ibuprofen is. Whatever a drug (in both meanings of the word) one should decide with reason when, how much and why take it. I can hardly name a medicine which won't do any harm if you take it chronically or dose too high.

Even plain serotonin, which can be kept elevated by chronic excess of tryptophan in the diet (let alone 5-HTP supplementation) is cardiotoxic.


BTW I've chosen to mention ibuprofen right because it's harmless unless you are taking it for too long. Nevertheless I believe its common alternative - paracetamol (acetaminophen) ought to be mentioned as it's plain deadly and can be considered much more dangerous (in terms of how easy it is to harm yourself severely) than MDMA.


MDMA works by dumping serotonin out of cells, not by blocking re-absorption. It's why MDMA has much stronger effects than SSRIs.


> Are you saying MDMA is a good replacement for marriage therapy if you are having problems in your marriage? Or that MDMA is (in general) one of the best recreational activities married couples can do together?

Both. And not only for marriage therapy, for personal therapy too - such a night washes away all kinds of stress, fears and sorrow in an instant.

> In my biased non-drug-using opinion, sitting around high is a poor substitute for having actual experiences with your SO.

Of course I don't mean it can be rightfully considered a sufficient replacement for travel and alike experiences yet it is better than most of the vacations happen to be in terms of how much does it recharge you psychologically. And it's not about sitting, it's about being overwhelmed (orders of magnitude stronger than any emotion I have sensed without drugs in my life, impossible to imagine without an actual experience) with unconditional love, care, sincerity, happiness, sexuality and perception of beauty and having sex so wild you probably don't ever have enough physical energy and psychological openness to do.

Many people don't feel it so great, many people get addicted (psychologically, and that usually are lonely people), yet I have never got addicted (once in 0.5-3.0 years feels enough for me and I never feel any kind of urge) and I certainly feel like this is the most important experience in my life.

If had just one free day in a year (no weekends and no vacations) but could do absolutely anything I want (including getting teleported to any place on earth) what I would do would be an MDMA trip at home with my loved one.


I have no experience of this myself, but know people who do. They describe it as feeling extremely connected, in love and energetic. I can imagine that having sex while in that state is a fun thing to do and a good bonding experience.


> "Remember all those times we sat around high and had sex? yeah, that was great"

My wife and I have great high sex memories that we reference somewhat frequently. Don’t knock it til you try it!


>I just hope this won't harm the actual availability of MDMA

The operators got popped 18 years ago, so it's pretty safe to say the supply has leveled.


> The operators got popped 18 years ago, so it's pretty safe to say the supply has leveled.

Article was published today and refers to much more recent dates.


The MDMA lab was discovered after the fire in 2002. There doesn't appear to be a drug lab involved in the most recent raid.


But I was responding to comment concerning the presence of an on-premises MDMA and ecstasy lab, which was discovered and shut down in 2002, leading to the conviction of three operators. Today's happenings are entirely cyber, according to that article.


The MDMA lab was in a similar bunker discovered in 2002 (so not quite 18 years ago), see the Wikipedia link in this thread. The article is about another bunker which may or may not have been run by the same company.


> nothing but make my heart attacks much much more frequent.

What the hell? Pardon my ignorance but how many heart attacks is too frequent? I was under the impression that one or two is pretty much all a human body can take.


My guess is they are using "heart attack" as a general term. My boss at my previous job had a genetic disease that caused heart arrhythmia's frequently. They were not life threatening if handled in time, he had an internal defibrillator(?) that would trigger a shock to correct the problem in the worst case. Most of the time he would have someone drive him to the hospital (1-2 hours away) to have it reset in a controlled environment

Eventually he made several corrections to his lifestyle that reduced the number of attacks considerably and volunteered for several corrective procedures to fix the problem (He wanted his son to be able to live without the risks) last I heard he had the defibrillator removed after a surgery at the Mayo Clinic, diet changes (no alcohol), and improvement to his physique due to regular exercise (obesity increased the chances of attacks for his condition).


My grandfather was in the double digits of heart attacks before he passed. He ended up dying of Liver cancer instead of a heart issue like we all expected.


> Pardon my ignorance but how many heart attacks is too frequent?

I normally have one in some days-months. Taking propafenone as prescribed by my cardiologist made me have them many times daily. What I mean under a heart attack is episodes of tachycardia and extrasistolia. To my surprise these never happened to me under MDMA no matter how hard and for how long I f-cked.


There's a radio host in Florida that had something like 4-6 heart attacks and 11 stents.


If you have a heart condition, mixing MDMA and Viagra is one of the riskier things you can do. Even people with healthy hearts are warned that they are putting themselves at risk of a heart attack.

>it's the only substance that can stop a heart attack reliably

I'd love to hear more details about this, do you actually take MDMA when you suspect heart trouble?


Well, whenever I have a heart trouble it (the trouble) normally stops on itself soon. But some times it takes so long that it starts feeling scary.

I often get the trouble during regular sex with no drugs. But this never ever happened during sex on MDMA. The rhythm is so perfect it reminds me of the Gattaca movie.

Some times I had the tachicardia episodes right before taking MDMA because I sort of get nervous (positively, like when you are about to meet a friend you have been separated from for years, because I look forward to such an intense love experience) but they stopped and perfect rhythm restored immediately as MDMA started to act (as I could notice).

So I feel like I should probably carry a reasonably small crystal of MDMA with me wherever I go as it can save my life once - this probably outweighs the risk of criminal prosecution. But I still am not sure, I still hesitate to have any prohibited substances with me, store them at home or anywhere.

I have also tried 6APB once - a guy has told me it's a "better MDMA" which doesn't stress the body that much. Besides I didn't really like it I have also found out (I wouldn't ever touch a drug without studying whatever information I can find about it) it is supposed to be 50 times more cardiotoxic and should never be taken together with viagra - combining these 2 drugs can make you need heart surgery after just a couple of times you take it.


I think it’s the sex itself that’s hard on the heart, not the viagra itself, unless you’re on vasodilators like nitroglycerin.

But the only people on those vasodilators will be really old, or taking them to loosen their anus.


As I understand it the risk comes from a very high heart rate, due to the combination of MDMA's stimulation and the low blood pressure caused by Viagra.


Isn’t the MDMA raising blood pressure much more though?

Not seeing how the sildenafil is contributing to a problem.


MDMA actually lowers my heart rate. My heart rate can go above 200 easily (without any drugs) and MDMA never allows this to happen.

pdub123 17 days ago [flagged]

Anecdotal much?

Let's see... that's one, lacking objectivity, and full of bias. Millions of data points to go until we get a good, solid picture of reality ;) relative to your claims


That was Sven his bunker, not xent his bunker. Also, it was a Chinese guy who rented a room that secretly brewed the mdma. ( and caused the fire.)


It'd be hilarious if the EU hit them with GDPR violations, just to rub some salt in the wounds.


Has right to be forgotten taken over?




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