Former Pirate Bay hoster raided by police, goes down amidst DDoS-attack

The raid and the outage are probably unrelated, said the hosting service's owner

Former Pirate Bay host PRQ.se went down in the middle of a police raid on Monday, affecting hundreds of hosted sites and thousands of users of PRQ's other services. But the raid and the outage are unlikely to be related, according to PRQ's owner.

All PRQ's services went down on Monday during a police raid, Mikael Viborg, owner and director of the Swedish hosting service, said on Tuesday.

The police raided the hosting service because they want to seize four servers that are linked to three or four sites, he said. "I can tell from the order that it is copyright-related," said Viborg.

There could have been other reasons for the raid, as PRQ is known to host controversial websites. In the past it has hosted The Pirate Bay, and is still involved with Wikileaks, said Viborg.

The company's website boasts that, unlike some other providers, it will only disable accounts that go unpaid; are used for spamming, DoSing or other activities harming the network; are used for publishing obviously illegal material such as child pornography, or if it is ordered to do so by a Swedish court.

Which sites are targeted by the raid remains unclear, said Viborg, who will be informed which sites are involved after the police have seized the servers. "But we haven't been able to give the police access to the machines yet," he said.

The police haven't been able to locate the machines because of technical difficulties that are unrelated to the raid, but are likely to be caused by a DDoS-attack that used PRQ's network to hit Swedish government sites, according to Viborg.

The attack was probably aimed at the site of the Swedish Ministry of Defense and caused problems with the hosting service's core routing system, he said, adding that because PRQ's systems are down the police has not been able to identify the servers yet.

"We are working to get everything back online," said Viborg, who estimated that the problems could be over at around 5 p.m. local time on Tuesday.

The technical problems started during the raid. The police were on PRQ premises waiting for Viborg to arrive and shortly after his arrival the DDoS attacks started, he said.

The Swedish Prosecution Authority declined to comment on the raid, but a spokeswoman said the authority would provide more information in a news release that could be published later Tuesday or on Wednesday.

The outage has affected all PRQ customers, downing hundreds of sites, said Viborg. The sites are not the only customers affected, though, as PRQ's VPN tunneling service is also down. The tunneling service allows users to bypass the filters and surveillance of their own ISPs, granting them a degree of anonymity.

At around the same time problems started at PRQ, its former customer The Pirate Bay also suffered an outage. PRQ was founded by two co-founders of the torrent-tracking site, Gottfried Svartholm Warg and Fredrik Neij.

However, the current Pirate Bay outage is unrelated to the raid or the problems at PRQ, the Pirate Bay said on Facebook. "We have a relay there but not that much more. This combined with a power failure at another place is the reason why we're down at the moment," the Pirate Bay team said. "The raid (...) is not aimed at us." The team expects that the site will be back online later on Tuesday.

Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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Loek Essers

IDG News Service
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