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from the L.A. Times

FBI raid of DigitalOne Web hosting firm knocks out sites of more than 100 companies

Digitalone

The FBI took several servers of DigitalOne, a Web hosting company based in Switzerland, knocking offline the websites of at least 120 companies, according to the chief executive of the Swiss company.

The raid occurred early Tuesday morning at a data center in Virginia where DigitalOne leases space for some of its servers, DigitalOne CEO Sergej Ostroumow said in an email.

The company's own website and those of 120 other companies were still down 35 hours after the raid, Ostroumow said.

"FBI was interested in one of our clients and in his servers, but they took besides target servers tens of not related servers of other customers," he said. "Most of our customers are sub-providers which host hundreds and thousands of smaller customers."

Among the affected companies was Curbed, a network of news sites that went offline all Tuesday as a result of the raid.

"Our tech team was kind of pulling their hair out trying to figure out what happened," said Lockhart Steele, the company's president. "Apparently we were taken out as collateral damage due to someone else in that rack who was doing something suspicious or problematic."

DigitalOne, a 4-year-old company operated by 10 people, specializes in a specific type of server that is very small, provides large amounts of data storage and is available at a low price, the company's customers said. Unlike other Internet hosts that use one data rack per server, each of DigitalOne's server racks can hold the data of many clients, which may explain the effects of the FBI's raid on unrelated companies.

"I don't know if the people taking the machines were aware they were taking more than one server," said Macidj Ceglowski, founder of the website Pinboard, which was also affected by the raid but had a backup server to run on.

Although DigitalOne's clients said the company has provided good service in the past, at least one company will be giving its data to a different host.

"They were clearly a small operation, which is why I felt a little uncomfortable putting all my data there," said Marco Arment, the chief executive of Instapaper, a mobile application that lets users store online articles for later reading. 

Arment added that DigitalOne’s pricing was good enough that he thought it was worth using the company to host some nonessential services.

Although Arment's company was only slightly affected, he said he has already begun setting up his data with a different company.

"From what I can tell, DigitalOne is still trying to figure out what's going on," he said.

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-- Salvador Rodriguez

twitter.com/sal19

Image: Screen shot of DigitalOne's website, which was unresponsive Wednesday evening.

 
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