Companies turn to underground security

The Bunker, a former RAF control centre, designed to withstand chemical and biological warfare has been turned into the UK’s prime security location for companies’ internet technologies.

Hundreds of companies, like Sun Microsystems, Scottish Widows and BTCellnet, have already installed their internet systems in the bespoke airtight rooms 300ft below ground level where access is only permitted to the few.

Ben Laurie, one of The Bunker’s owners and renowned cryptologist, said: ‘Using cryptography we have found ways of stopping theft while data is in transit. But people can physically steal things, too.’

Companies are realising that the growing anti-capitalist movement seen over the past months in the form of large scale protests in Seattle, Prague and most recently London can cause billions of pounds worth of loss or damage, and at worst a company’s collapse, unless good security measures are put in place.

Dr Ian Angell, professor of information systems at the London School of Economics, warns against rising unemployment among the disenchanted educated classes and what he calls the Luddite mentality.

‘There is a basic social uncertainty. Companies are now seen as a target for a whole range of threats. And companies are realising that they need two sets of security. The idea of security is not just about technological security anymore. There is also physical attack,’ said Dr Angell.

Companies can relocate their servers to The Bunker and be up and running in less than 20 hours, explained Paul Lightfoot, operations manager and a former RAF officer based at The Bunker. ‘Security levels are like an onion skin here,’ said Lightfoot.

The Bunker is the brainchild of AL Digital Communications, an internet development and consultancy company set up by brothers Ben and Adam Laurie and Dominic Hawken. In 1998 and just seven years after the Ash-based national air defence site underwent a complete upgrade the AL Digital team bid for it.

The Bunker not only protects against terrorist attack, but also againsteelectro-magnetic pulse, electronic eavesdropping, HERF and Solar flares.


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