Carrier Hotels: Essential Information for Data Center Professionals


FBI Shutters Web Host

Carrier Hotels Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2004
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If FBI agents showed up at your data center bearing a warrant, would you be able to provide them prompt access to customer data? How long would it take?

That's an important question in the wake of an FBI raid of Columbus, Ohio hosting company CIT Hosting last Saturday. Federal agents wound up shutting down the entire operation, seizing all the company's web servers and all customer data as part of its investigation of a hacking incident.

CIT Hosting, also known as FooNet, markets itself as "the leader in the IRC and DDoS protection business for the last 5 years." The company posted a web page informing customers that its data center was shut down, and instructing customers to contact the FBI if they needed access to their files.

Wired Space"The FBI executed a search warrant issued by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio regarding the IRC network that we host," the company said in its statement.

IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is a live chat system that allows users to create private discussion rooms. While IRC has a lengthy history of legitimate use, it is also a medium for discreet communication between hackers. CIT said the FBI was "investigating whether someone hosted on our network hacked and attacked someone else."

"After several hours of attempting to track down, inspect and audit the terabytes of data that we host, the FBI determined that it was more efficient (from their point of view) to remove all of our servers and transport them to the FBI local laboratories for inspection," the statement continued. "The FBI has assured us that as soon as the data has been safely copied and inspected, the equipment will be promptly returned. Unfortunately, the FBI has not been able to tell us when they will be completed with their inspection."

The seizure isn't standard procedure, and there's no way to know exactly what prompted it. CIT's account suggests the FBI may have lost patience with the process. The IRC-focused nature of CIT's business may also have been a factor.

But if you're a data center operator, you want to avoid any scenario in which the FBI gets impatient and starts hauling away your servers. Just one more item on the contingency planning checklist for the times in which we live.

2004 Carrier Hotels, Inc.
116 Village Boulevard, Suite 200
Princeton, NJ 08540
Phone:(609) 587-3432