Bank of America braces itself for fallout from WikiLeaks disclosures, report says

20-person team of bank personnel, outside experts said to be looking to determine what, if any, documents are held by WikiLeaks

Bank of America has assembled a 15- to 20-person team to come up with a damage control plan in the event Wikileaks follows through on its promise to release thousands of insider documents leaked to it, according to reports.

The team headed by Bruce Thompson, Bank of America's chief risk officer. has launched a broad internal investigation to determine what internal documents have been leaked to the whistleblower Web site, the New York Times reported yesterday.

The group has studied thousands of documents, and is now in the process of reviewing every report of a missing or compromised computer, the newspaper said.

The bank's WikiLeaks damage control team includes personnel from its technology, communications, finance and legal departments, the Times reported. Bank of America has also contracted with consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton and some top law firms to assist its personnel in the effort.

The team regularly updates bank CEO Brian Moynihan on their progress, the newspaper reported.

Bank of America did not respond to a Computerworld request for comment on the WikiLeaks threat.

The bank apparently began the damage control effort soon after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange disclosed in November that the whistleblower site possessed some tens of thousands of insider documents from a large U.S. bank that could prove damaging.

Assange did not identify the bank but indicated that the documents, obtained from an executive's hard drive, would cast a "true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms."

Since then, there has been considerable speculation within the industry that the unnamed bank is in fact Bank of America.

Assange himself, in a 2009 interview with IDG News Service contended that WikiLeaks had obtained a hard drive from the computer of an executive officer at the Bank of America. The drive held close to 5GB of data, he said.

The Times story yesterday said the bank's investigation has so far been unable to determine what documents WikiLeaks may have, or even whether the drive is in the posession of the Web site.

The internal Bank of America probe comes as WikiLeaks continues to release thousands of leaked U.S. Department of State cables. The release of the classified documents, which started in late November, has provoked strong criticism of WikiLeaks by officials in the U.S. and other countries.

The leaks and subsequent criticism have triggered a series of distributed denial of service attacks by supporters and opponents of Assange.

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan, or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is jvijayan@computerworld.com.

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