FBI Seizes Servers at Dallas Data Center

The FBI raided a Dallas carrier hotel Thursday and seized equipment from data center space operated by Core IP Networks. Agents armed with a search warrant appear to have confiscated all the servers in the facility, which houses gear for about 50 businesses. 

“The FBI has seized all equipment belonging to our customers,” Matthew Simpson, the CEO of Core IP, said in a message. “Many customers went to the data center to try and retrieve their equipment, but were threatened with arrest.”  

Simpson says the FBI told him it was investigating a customer of Core IP, but claims the company in question is a prior customer that no longer colocates with Core IP. Simpson told a Dallas TV station that the investigation concerns pirated movies.

That claim has triggered speculation that the probe is tied to the leak of the feature film “Wolverine.” A rough version of the film is circulating online, several weeks before the movie is scheduled to debut in theaters.

The 6 a.m. raid took place at Core IP’s offices on two floors of 2323 Bryan Street in Dallas, a major carrier hotel owned by Digital Realty Trust. Simpson said Core IP leases space from Telx, another provider in the facility.

The FBI told Channel 11 News in Dallas that “it could take several days to restore the servers of the affected companies.” That’s not happy news for customers, which reportedly include numerous phone companies, impacting e911 caller location services in some areas of the country. FBI officials told the TV station “they could speed up their analysis of the web servers if the affected companies would contact them.”  

Simpson said the FBI also showed up at his residence with a search warrant, but said neither he nor Core IP were doing anything illegal. “If you run a datacenter, please be aware that in our great country, the FBI can come into your place of business at any time and take whatever they want, with no reason,” he wrote.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. misfit@hotmail.com

    4th amendment requires a legal search and it looks like since they showed up with an valid warrant we can knock off the storm trooper facist-fear mongering! Also, if they got reports on the source IP, why didn't they just pinpoint the source netblock (ISP's route hundreds) and then segment the network, remove the routing for the network and seize the specific servers? Now that's a good question...

  2. taokiller

    hmm i wonder how much does it cost for the FBI to use its power to tack down movie pirates ??? It will be interesting to have a justification of this enforcement after The movie Wolverine hits the theaters and gross over 100 million +

  3. kenoshi

    Expect FBI to do any sort of real investigative work? Now you are asking for too much!

  4. Vincent

    wow that's like a digital equivalent of the FBI arresting an entire town because they had reason to believe a thief was living there. How can they confiscate all servers when this customer would have contracted one rack, cage or whatever?

  5. "4th amendment requires a legal search and it looks like since they showed up with an valid warrant we can knock off the storm trooper facist-fear mongering!" That's a good one. I sure hope they made fifty copies and dutifully distributed them to the actual owners of the equipment that was taken. But since they apparently can't even tell who owns the equipment they took, we can probably assume that didn't happen. Maybe they were just getting desperate for IT funding: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/03/22/fbi_email_access_woes/

  6. Cliff

    “4th amendment requires a legal search and it looks like since they showed up with an valid warrant we can knock off the storm trooper facist-fear mongering!” Ah, thank heavens for a valid warrant. I guess its just a minor detail that it was served on the wrong people.

  7. What did Core IP do when the FBI showed up? Open the DC doors and tell the FBI, ok go ahead and kill 50 businesses? It is normal to panic in such cases and not to know what to do. But first thing to do is call your lawyer and have him talk with the FBI, have the FBI send him a copy of the warrant and validate the extent of the warrant or at least if the warrant is valid or permits them to do what they (the FBI) are about to do.

  8. I just understood that they had colo in a DC, must be the COLO DC that let the FBI cease what they wanted.

  9. 2GT

    bust-the-move, your tax $ funded the FBI to investigate in your digital piracy -- RAID this time, maybe Snapshots next time, to protect your digital data.

  10. Rich

    That is crazy. I know when cops do warrants I heard they can't take servers. They have to take a Digital Copy of the servers as it would interfere with busineses. But, I guess depending on the severity it was necessary. I am not knocking the FBI, Im just confused cuz I was told you couldn't do that about a month ago.

  11. John Roberts

    The FBI was apparently investigating a company that was scamming phone service (notice the phone providers were affected). Apparently one of them was suspected of providing more service than they were paying for. This is a real crime. The FBI is really expected to investigate and prosecute this. In a cloud computing environment (particularly a virtualized one), what physical box equals what IP is not as evident as one might hope. This is a danger of cloud computing. Percentage wise (compared to all the clouds out there), this is not a substantial issue (unless you are the one affected). In cloud computing it is difficult to assure data, as it is not under your control. Search articles for "What to do if your cloud provider disappears", and other security nightmares from cloud computing. If it is a non-critical service that you don't have money to provide in-house (such as my personnal E-mail), assurance is less important than cost and Cloud Computing makes sense. If it is your business, separate systems with a Certification and Accreditation, backup power and multiple ISP's are the way to go.