Bank Systems & Technology is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


12:04 PM
Connect Directly

BofA's Apparent Domain Buy-Up the Cost of Doing Business in the Age of WikiLeaks

Reports suggest Bank of America might be taking online brand protection initiatives.

What's one way to prevent random disgruntled members of the public from building easy-to-find websites ridiculing your bank and its top executives? Simple: buy up every possible threatening domain name out there.

A news article published Thursday by PBS TV and web-newsmagazine Need to Know alleges Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America is doing just that, taking the initiative to proactively counter any dirt that online whistleblower WikiLeaks might or might not publish about the bank. As Need to Know reports, the bank appears to be using a company called MarkMonitor Inc., which essentially deflects attacks on a company's image by seizing domain names that could be used against them.

This is exactly what MarkMonitor appears to be doing for Bank of America, snapping up more than 400 domain names (such as in recent weeks that could feasibly be used as destinations for leveling hatred at the company. Notably the list of domains doesn’t center on Bank of America as much as it does senior executives and board members, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out recently.

MarkMonitor's website boasts that it serves more than half of the Fortune 100. Brand abuse and counterfeit sales are among the reasons a company would choose to deploy this type of defense.

And it's a valid concern among banks and financial institutions still trying to regain trust in the wake of financial crisis. Pile on top of that the insinuations from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that he has classified data from, and will next choose to target a top American bank, and as he told Forbes, "give some insight into how banks behave at the executive level."

The measures MarkMonitor might be taking on behalf of BofA seem increasingly to be the cost of doing business in a world where anyone can become a target online, and where the general public is always seeking the next big reason to get fired up.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Bank Systems & Technology Newsletters
Bank Systems & Technology Radio
Archived Audio Interviews
Join Bank Systems & Technology Associate Editor Bryan Yurcan, and guests Karen Massey and Jerry Silva from IDC Financial Insights, for a conversation about the firm's 11th annual FinTech rankings.