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Data bunkers


How Swiss mountains became a digital refuge


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Data storage facilities are growing faster in Switzerland than in any other European country. Apart from having mountain bunkers in which to squirrel away servers, the country’s strict data protection law is also proving a draw for global business. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)

During the Second World War, Switzerland bored a vast network of bunkers and tunnels into its mountains as part of the country’s defensive strategy. These underground fortresses are now making a 21st century, digital age, comeback. 

The high security storage company, Mount 10, has bought a former air force bunker to store data. The place is protected by heavy doors, long tunnels and additional security like retina and fingerprint scanners. Customer data from about 30 countries is stored in the servers, which can run for several days on generators in case of a power outage. The computers are cooled by underground pools of water. The main threat is, however, from hackers.

Switzerland has become a global refuge for digital data. Its legal security is one major selling point. After the Snowden affair, Phil Zimmermann - inventor of the email data encryption system PGP and one of the world’s leading experts on data security - transferred his business to Geneva. He had witnessed how other companies were forced to hand out customer data and even encryption codes to the United States authorities.