It's emerged that Bank of America is buying-up domain names that could be used to abuse its senior execs if (or possibly, when) WikiLeaks comes good with its promise to leak controversial internal data on the bank's activities.
According to some reports, Bank of America has created a "war room" to develop strategies to defeat any allegations or political or media back-wash that will probably develop if WikiLeaks publishes thousands of internal documents. Julian Assange has promised that WikiLeaks has enough embarrassing data on a "major" U.S. bank (which people generally think means the Bank of America) that it would force the resignation of its senior management.
One part of the bank's defenses seems to be a pre-emptive buying-up of domain names that could be used to attack this same management. According to Domain Name Wire, the bank has been "aggressively" buying domain names that incorporate directors' and senior execs' names and the words "sucks" and "blows." Apparently "hundreds" of such names were registered on December 17th alone, which implies a degree of immediacy and panic on behalf of the bank—which may be worried WikiLeaks is imminently about to reveal all.
Searching variations on the bank's CEO, Brian Moynihan, reveals many of these possible variations were registered by a company named MarkMonitor.com:
Domain Name: BRIANMOYNIHANBLOWS.COM
Registrar: MARKMONITOR INC.
Whois Server: whois.markmonitor.com
Updated Date: 17-dec-2010 Creation Date: 17-dec-2010 Expiration Date: 17-dec-2012
MarkMonitor styles itself as "the global leader in enterprise brand protection. Experts in Domain Management, AntiCounterfeiting, Grey Market, Trademark Protection" and so on. The link to the Bank of America is suggested by the fact that "Bank-of-America.com" itself was officially registered in 1999 (and expires in January 2011, incidentally) by none other than MarkMonitor.com.
Interestingly, the bank doesn't seem to have done a particularly thorough defensive job: Board member Thomas May is unprotected at ThomasMaysucks.com, and BrianMoynihanLies.com is available. "Sucks" and "blows" are also pretty mild attacks—there are a dozen dirtier or more barbed terms that come to mind, and which the bank doesn't seem to be acting to defend.
So why is the bank potentially so worried? It would seem to imply a degree of nervousness that it will really look bad in the WikiLeaks data, particularly if it's taking defensive moves before the fact. And last week the bank joined PayPal and MasterCard in denying WikiLeaks access to payment processing facilities—which could actually prompt WikiLeaks to reveal what it knows about the bank's alleged bad behavior—especially now that Julian Assange is out on bail and he's vowed to keep leaking.
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