WikiLeaks army 'Anonymous' eyes Bank of America with 'Operation BOA Constrictor'
Anonymous, the loosely knit association of WikiLeaks supporters, is seeking to rally the online faithful to attack Bank of America with 'Operation BOA Constrictor.'
As "Anonymous" Internet users formulate plans to punish Bank of America for refusing to provide services to WikiLeaks, a new report from Harvard University warns that Anonymous-style cyberattacks are a potent and increasingly common weapon.Skip to next paragraph
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Bank of America on Dec. 17 joined several other financial institutions in refusing to process financial payments for WikiLeaks, which has come under fire since its Nov. 28 decision to begin publicizing some 250,000 secret US diplomatic cables. The bank said in a statement that the secret-spilling organization “may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments.”
Almost immediately, online activists under the Anonymous banner began plotting “Operation BOA Constrictor” against the biggest US bank by assets. A source close to Anonymous confirmed to the Monitor that Operation BOA Constrictor is in the works.
At the Anonymous-frequented website “Truth Is Revolutionary,” a message thread created Dec. 18 was titled “Proposal for new Ops: Operation BOA Constrictor.”
“I would like to prepare, organize and coordinate with the upcoming WikiLeaks release of BOA material, a protest against the Bank of America. The protest could take any form,” states the first message, posted under the name “Zarly." The same user later in the thread suggests protest methods such as “mass fax, flood email servers, mass sticker/poster campaign, sit-ins, phone-ins, various media blitz techniques, truth outs…”
There are Internet rumors that WikiLeaks has documents embarrassing or harmful to Bank of America. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in an interview reported yesterday that he has dirt on a "major bank," which he didn't name.
BOA defenses against DDoS attacks
Noticeably absent from the above list of protest suggestions is distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which is when a large number of computers simultaneously attempt to access a website, overloading it with information requests. Anonymous used DDoS attacks in its previous "Operation Payback" to briefly crash the websites of Visa and MasterCard after those companies earlier this month refused services for WikiLeaks.
However, Amazon, which kicked WikiLeaks off of its web server this month, was unaffected by DDoS attacks. The online retailer has strong defenses against cyber attacks.
Likewise, Bank of America probably confronts DDoS attacks regularly and likely has strong defenses, Rich Mogull, an analyst and CEO with the security research firm Securosis, told the Associated Press.
Bank of America spokesman Scott Silvestri declined to comment on the matter when reached by phone and e-mail by the Monitor.
Harvard: DDoS used for political and criminal aims
Operation BOA Constrictor comes as Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society released a report Dec. 20 warning that DDoS attacks are becoming more prevalent while remaining difficult for most websites to combat.
"With recent highly publicized DDoS attacks on WikiLeaks, and ‘Operation Payback’ attacks by ‘Anonymous’ on sites perceived to oppose WikiLeaks, we expect these attacks to become more common,” according to the report, titled “Distributed Denial of Service Attacks Against Independent Media and Human Rights Sites.”