FBI raid on Virginia datacenter knocks legit businesses for a loop

At least three fairly popular web companies and a Swiss ISP are in a frenzy to restore their operations today after the FBI showed up at 1:15 a.m. Tuesday morning at a hosting facility in Reston, Va. to cart off a bunch of servers:

In an e-mail to one of its clients on Tuesday afternoon, a DigitalOne employee, Sergej Ostroumow, said: “This problem is caused by the F.B.I., not our company. In the night F.B.I. has taken 3 enclosures with equipment plugged into them, possibly including your server — we can not check it.”

Mr. Ostroumow said that the F.B.I. was only interested in one of the company’s clients but had taken servers used by “tens of clients.” He wrote: “After F.B.I.’s unprofessional ‘work’ we can not restart our own servers, that’s why our website is offline and support doesn’t work.” The company’s staff had been working to solve the problem for the previous 15 hours, he said.

Mr. Ostroumow said in response to e-mailed questions that it was not clear if the issues would be resolved by Wednesday.

Bookmarking site Pinboard, one of the customers of DigitalOne caught up in the sudden theft of servers, were nonplussed with the hassle, declaring on twitter “need to find a jack-booted thugs photo for our downtime page.” Pinboard’s status page seems to indicate they are taking in on the chin, even though the loss of resources is a hassle they weren’t anticipating a day ago.

Another business caught up in the case of the three missing racks was Curbed Network, a blog company that has been completely darkened aside from their twitter account. Their response was more curt, stating that they are an FBI victim and are currently “starting over from backups.”

Instapaper, yet another innocent bystander in the debacle was also taking the hit and was moving to stop the bleeding, saying “a temporary network failure is making one of Instapaper’s two live database servers unreachable.”

As the hours of downtime threatens to drag into days, even DigitalOne’s website was offline at the time of this writing. We were unable to ascertain how extensive the server theft has struck, but three racks fulls of blade servers could easily host hundreds more websites and databases. Follow digitalone updates on twitter to see the fallout in real time.

The collaterally damaged companies are currently busy exploring their hosting options elsewhere and are likely too busy preforming emergency resuscitation on their livelihoods to publicly lambast the FBI’s bureaucracy (who have not returned comment to the NY Times). It’s simply inexcusable behavior that the FBI would drag so many innocent companies into their chase after some online bad guys.

If cops pursuing a criminal aims for every fruit stand on the sidewalk, they are a also a criminal and should be fired as well. To the business owners damaged by the FBI’s brute tactics: Don’t just pick up the pieces and rebuild your fruit stand with a grumble and grunt, demand restitution and justice.

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

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