The Dark Web Bunker

An eccentric Dutchman began living in a giant underground facility built by the German military—and ran a server farm beloved by cybercriminals.

In the two-thousands and twenty-tens, CyberBunker and Kamphuis’s associated Internet-service provider, which was also called CB3ROB, had become notorious for hosting the spam e-mail operations of phishing sites—fraudulent criminal enterprises that lure people into disclosing their credit-card details—and of rogue pharmaceutical peddlers. At the same time, CyberBunker hosted WikiLeaks, the renegade operation devoted to exposing secret documents. (Xennt told me that this was not a political gesture on his part: “CyberBunker hosted WikiLeaks indeed. Why? Because WikiLeaks hired its services.”) The Pirate Bay, a site for sharing movies and other copyrighted content, was a CyberBunker client until 2010, when the Motion Picture Association of America won a court ruling, in Hamburg, that forced Xennt and Kamphuis to remove the site from its servers. Kamphuis was indignant about the decision, telling a reporter, “Help us put these dinosaurs out of their misery!”

As Angerer continued to research CyberBunker, he learned that it could be very aggressive. Around 2010, the Spamhaus Project, a European volunteer-driven organization whose goal is to impede spammers, had begun listing I.P. and real addresses associated with CyberBunker and CB3ROB, and had lobbied Internet-service providers to block the company. In early 2013, this pressure led to CB3ROB’s services being briefly taken off-line. In retaliation, Kamphuis and a loose group of hackers in different countries, who called themselves the Stophaus Collective, hit Spamhaus with a distributed denial-of-service attack, which incapacitates a site by overloading it with traffic. Kamphuis was arrested shortly after the attack, but Xennt was not; he proceeded with moving into the Traben-Trarbach bunker.

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