FBI Seizes Servers, Prompting Site Outages

Chloe Albanesius - PC Magazine

Early Tuesday morning, the FBI raided a data center in Reston, Virginia and seized servers, causing several high-profile Web sites to go dark.

According to a New York Times report, the FBI showed up at the data center, owned by Switzerland-based DigitalOne, around 1:15am and removed the equipment. The move resulted in services like Pinboard, Instapaper, and the Curbed Network going offline.

DigitalOne chief Sergej Ostroumow sent an email to clients on Tuesday that said FBI took "3 enclosures with equipment plugged into them, possibly including your server—we cannot check it," the Times reported. The seizure affected "tens of clients," Ostroumow said.

"Sorry for the continued slow site performance from yesterday's server loss. The replacement server has been delivered and I'm setting it up," Instapaper tweeted earlier today.

The company said it was arranging to replace the blocked database with a new server.

Earlier today, Pinboard said service has stabilized, and its API was back on. Some archive links, search, global tag pages, RSS, tag clouds, and user stats were still offline.

"DigitalOne has confirmed that our server was one of the ones taken during the FBI raid. I have no reason to believe it had anything to do with us, but unfortunately these blade servers pack many to a single box," Pinboard said.

The Curbed Network is back online. "We're back! With some glitches, but our tech team's working to restore everything," the company said in a tweet that pointed to the Times article as an explanation.

The FBI has not commented on the raid, and it's unclear if it's at all related to recent hacks committed by groups like LulzSec and Anonymous. Earlier this year, the FBI said it executed more than 40 search warrants throughout the U.S. related to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks organized by Anonymous.

During an April appearance before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, Gordon M. Snow, assistant director of the FBI's cyber division, said "our cyber adversaries' capabilities are at an all-time high," and pointed to the activities of Anonymous as one example.

For more, see PCMag's Guide to Knowing Your Hackers.