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Switzerland set sights on becoming world`s data vault

Last Updated: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 13:41

Switzerland: It looks like the ideal location for a James Bond thriller: a massive underground bunker in a secret location in the Swiss Alps used for keeping data safe from prying eyes.

Housed in one of Switzerland`s numerous deserted Cold War-era army barracks, the high-tech Deltalis data centre is hidden behind four-tonne steel doors built to withstand a nuclear attack plus biometric scanners and an armed guard.

The centre is situated near the central Swiss village of Attinghausen, but its exact GPS location remains a closely guarded secret.

Such tight security is in growing demand in a world still shaking from repeated leaks scandals and fears of spies lurking behind every byte.

Business for Switzerland`s 55 data centres is booming. They benefit from the Swiss reputation for security and stability, and industry insiders predict the wealthy Alpine nation already famous for its super-safe banks will soon also be known as the world`s data vault.

Revelations from former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden of widespread spying by the National Security Agency has served as "a wake-up call" to the dangers lurking in this era of electronic espionage, said Deltalis co-director Andy Reinhardt.

That danger is clearly something his company takes seriously.

To enter the 15,000-square-metre (18,000-square-yard) bunker that once served as the Swiss army`s secret headquarters one must first hand over an ID card, leave a biometric scan, go through a hyper-sensitive security portal, and finally push past an anti-nuclear steel door.

From there, a maze of concrete tunnels and corridors covered with Cold War-era military maps and dotted with large pools storing underground water lead to the 600-square-metre Deltalis data centre.

Located 200 metres inside the mountain and 1,000 metres below the peak, the pristine, white, almost futuristic room in use since 2011 houses row upon row of humming data storage systems.

The machines continuously gather and store data from individuals or companies willing to pay an undisclosed price to ensure their precious information will not be lost to power cuts, earthquakes or terrorist attacks, and will remain safe from would-be intruders.

Snowden`s disclosures that online behemoths like Facebook, Google, Skype and Yahoo have assisted the NSA and other agencies in their snooping by handing over user data have certainly proved a boon for companies like Deltalis.

First Published: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 13:41

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