Security firms accused of pitching WikiLeaks sabotage plan to BofA

Security firms accused of pitching WikiLeaks sabotage plan to BofA

A document outlining a plan of attack on WikiLeaks, allegedly put together by three data intelligence firms acting on behalf of a law firm representing Bank of America, has been posted online by the whistle-blowing Web Site.

The document was published after a story from The Tech Herald, based on internal e-mails, suggested that Palantir Technologies, HBGary Federal, and Berico Technologies have put together a presentation called "The WikiLeaks Threat".

The document is understood to be a response to a request late last year from Hunton and Williams, a law firm working for BofA, which was recommended to the bank by the US Department of Justice.

The e-mails and document came to light after a cyber-attack on HBGary by the group Anonymous. This was in retaliation for an interview given to the Financial Times by the company's COO Aaron Barr in which he claimed to have used clues on social networking sites to identify key members of the collective.

The 24-page presentation from the security firms begins with an overview of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange before offering an appraisal of the organisation's strengths and weaknesses, which concludes that "despite the publicity, WikiLeasks is NOT in a healthy position right now. Their weakness are causing great stress in the organisation which can be capitalized on".

The document goes on to suggest "potential proactive tactics" which include:

  • Feed the fuel between the feuding groups. Disinformation. Create messages around actions of sabotage or discredit the opposing organisations. Submit fake documents and then call out the error.
  • Create concern over the security of the infrastructure. Create exposure stories. If the process is believed not to be secure they are done.
  • Cyber attacks against the infrastructure to get data on document submitters. This would kill the project. Since the servers are now in Sweden and France putting a team together to get access is more straightforward.
  • Media campaign to push the radial and reckless nature of WikiLeaks activities. Sustain pressure. Does nothing for the fanatics, but creates concern and doubt among moderates.
  • Search for leaks. Use social media to profile and identify risky behavior of employees.

However, Bank of America's concerns over the leak may prove unfounded. According to Reuters, despite Assange's public claims that his information could "take down" a bank, he is more circumspect in private.

Citing three people "familiar with the WikiLeaks leader's private discussions about the material" Reuters says Assange actually thinks the material is not self-explanatory and he cannot make much sense of it.

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