Monday, October 22, 2012

Safest Locations on the Planet, Most Secure Vaults in the World

Bahnhof and Wikileaks in Stockholm

The US State Department probably isn’t very fond of this safe house. Buried 100 feet beneath the streets of Stockholm, this old nuclear bunker is the gadfly of all data centers. That’s because the facility, owned by the Swedish internet provider Bahnhof, famously shelters the servers for WikiLeaks. Julian Assange’s most precious computers hide in this data bunker. Tucked behind a 1.5-foot steel door and driven by back-up generators that can go for weeks, WikiLeaks will keep breathing as long as it’s here.

Granite Mountain

Granite Mountain is a mass of solid rock one mile up Little Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Range of Utah, not too far from Salt Lake City, Utah. Since 1965, Granite Mountain has safeguarded the Mormon Church’s genealogical library. The library is buried 600 feet beneath the mountain, where it contains 3.5 billion images—from census records to immigration papers—on microfilm. The documents were acquired through agreements with archives, libraries, and churches from over 100 countries. The archivists there duplicate and digitize old documents, which have been made public at websites like and The facility is naturally climate controlled, but is also protected by armed guards and a 14-ton, nuclear-blast-resistant door. Chances are, somewhere inside, there’s a record with your name on it.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

When you read about this structure one question immediately comes, why? Why go to the expense, why make the effort to secure these seeds in a structure resistant to nuclear war, earthquakes, world war, catastrophic floods and Armageddon. These seeds could certainly be housed at some of the leading agricultural universities around the world or  in secure locations in the country of the seeds native origins. It really makes you ask the people know something that the rest of us don't know! 
If Armageddon happens soon, any hope of bringing the world’s crops back is buried 390 feet under a Nordic mountain. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault on the island of Spitsbergen currently houses over 500,000 of the world’s plant species. The vault is 620 miles south of the North Pole and safeguarded by hundreds of miles of ocean.  It also sits 430 feet above sea level, safe from any possible sea-level rise. The three seed vaults lay behind four heavy steel doors. As long as the keys aren't hidden under a doormat, our seeds should be safe from Doomsday.

Area 51

Its remote location alone makes it one of the most secure sites on the planet, you won't find it on any geological or aeronautical maps and yet like a place in the Twilight Zone, flights to it leave Las Vegas' McCarran Airport every day. For a place that does not exist they have taken extraordinary measures to keep people out. Guards in Humvee's and unmarked black and white SUV's constantly patrol the perimeter with armed M-16s. Underground as well as above ground motion sensors alert guards who are constantly monitoring electronic screens. A fleet a black helicopters is on alert 24 hours a day to intercept possible intruders. Arial and electronic camouflage drape the entire area. Some say alien aircraft are stored there and reverse-engineered to create new aircraft and weapons, or it's the site of genetic testing or other diabolical plots. Others say it's just a very secret aircraft development site. No matter, what it is, Area 51 remains shrouded in mystery. For more info click here.

Fort Knox

Plan on breaking into Fort Knox? First, climb the four surrounding fences—two of which are electric—and then sneak past the armed sentinels lining the perimeter. Be sure to avoid the video cameras. Don’t waste time trying to blast through the granite walls—they are four feet thick and held together by 750 tons of reinforcing steel. If you get past the armed guards inside, plus the maze of locked doors, you’ll probably be stopped by the 22-ton vault door. Don’t despair. The vault can be opened, but only if you find all the staff members who know a small slice of the combination (you’ll need all of them, since nobody knows the whole thing.) Once you get inside the vault, you’ll have to break into the smaller vaults tucked inside, then you can start taking the 5000 tons of gold bullion stored in there. And do be careful when you leave: 30,000 soldiers from Fort Knox’s military camp will be anxiously awaiting you outside.

Cheyenne Mountain

Cheyenne Mountain complex is where existential threats come not from the Soviet Union but from things like natural disasters, cyberattacks, and amorphous terrorist organizations on the hunt for nuclear weapons, it may today even be considered more important than ever. Among the systems set up to protect the critical operations inside the complex from the most dire attacks are giant, 25-ton blast doors placed deep within the mountain, as well as a tunnel and portal structure designed to deflect a nuclear detonation. There are also a network of blast valves set up to ensure safe air, redundant power generators on top of a huge battery bank, a massive diesel fuel reservoir, a 4.5 million gallon reservoir of water used as a heat sink, a system of giant springs designed to allow the 15 three-story buildings inside the mountain to shift up to an inch in any direction in case of an explosion or earthquake, and countless sections of flexible pipe connectors meant to ensure that significant shaking doesn't upset normal operations.

Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Often described by the media as a quasi government organization nothing could be further from the truth, this is an independent company that is profit driven and has nothing to do with the government other than fulfilling government contracts like many other companies. We often hear the words 'Powers That Be' bantered around rather freely but look no further than the Fed. In reality, they are a quasi secret organization that does not answer to anyone and charges the American people for the use of their own money. On top of that they have the final say over who and where banks can be opened in the United States, a great gig if you can get it!Blocks away from the panic of Wall Street, 25% of the world’s gold rests. At New York’s Federal Reserve Bank, over $270 billion of gold bullion hides in a sunken three-story bunker. Most of the gold, however, isn’t American; foreign nations own 98% of the stock. But that’s because they trust the Fed vault. After all, it’s 80 feet below ground, surrounded by solid rock from all sides, and surveyed by a fleet of expert marksmen. And to top it off, the 540,000 bars of gold are locked behind a 90-ton steel door.

Mosler Vaults at Hiroshima

Probably one of the  insensitive marketing campaigns on the planet can be attributed to Mosler Vaults. When the Enola Gay dropped Little Boy on Hiroshima, the city and its people were obliterated. But downtown, just a football field away from ground zero, the vault at Teikoku Bank sat undamaged. The exterior was fried but the interior was pristine. Mosler, the company that built the safe, saw the incident as a great marketing opportunity. For the next decade, it exploited the tragedy to boast about the quality of its products.

Bank of England Gold Vault

It looks like something straight out of Indiana Jones: the UK’s largest gold vault—second in the world to the Fed in New York—stores 4,600 5152 tons of gold. The bombproof door is unlocked via a sophisticated voice recognition system, aided by multiple three-foot-long keys.  The bank won’t say how heavy the door is or how deep down the vault is buried, but we do know it has more floor space than London’s Tower 42, a 47-story building.

Iron Mountain

What do the charred remains of Flight 93, the original photo of Einstein sticking out his tongue, and Edison’s patent for the light bulb have in common? They’re all stowed under Iron Mountain.More than 200 feet below the ground, this retired limestone mine houses 1.7 million square feet worth of vaults. The best known Iron Mountain storage facility is a high security storage facility in the former limestone mine at Boyers Pennsylvania in the United States. It began storing records in 1954. It is here that Bill Gates stores his  Corbis photographic collection in a refrigerated cave 220 feet (67m) underground.  The US government is the biggest tenant, and the identities of 95% of vault owners are confidential. We do know that Warner Brothers, the Smithsonian Institution, and Corbis all have vaults there. Thousands of historic master recordings, photo negatives, and original film reels live here. Iron Mountain is also home to Room 48, a data center backing up some of America’s biggest companies. Two waves of armed guards protect the entrance, and it’s said they inspect guests so thoroughly that even the TSA would be embarrassed.

Saddam Hussein's Bagdad Bunker

The 2,150 square-yard bunker was originally designed to withstand the blast of a nuclear bomb and house 50 people. Located nearly 100 feet underground, security measures for the Dictator’s refuge included three-ton Swiss-made doors, 5ft-thick walls, a 6ft-thick steel-reinforced concrete ceiling, and two escape tunnels. The bunker survived seven American  bunker busters and 20 cruise missles making direct hits during the war. Unfortunately, it couldn't survive looting and was picked almost completely clean during the last days of the war by Iraqi soldiers.

The Dubai Gold Vault

Dubai, known as the City of Gold, finished building a vault to hold all that metal in 2009. The vault is located in the Dubai Multi Commodities Center and incorporates the latest and greatest in security measures. Dubai has repatriated their gold from London now that they have one of the most secure facilities in the world. From the Multi Commodities Center Dubai has established itself as a significant gold trader but has also started trading, other precious metals, diamonds, pearls and tea. There is little known about the security of these vaults but it is a fact that they spared virtually no expense guarding against theft and natural disasters.

Antwerp Diamond Vaults

Once considered state of the art for vaults, that is until Italian thieves beat their impregnable defenses in February 2003. The group got past the elaborate security measures which included body heat detectors, invisible magnetic fields, radar systems and a locking system that was considered unsurpassed. They walked away with a cool $100 million worth of diamonds and to this day the police and Interpol are still miffed as to how they did it.
By the end of 2004 the Diamond Center completely revamped their entire security system and virtually no  details of any substance has been made available to the public.

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