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Anonymous leaks 'Bank of America secrets' in spy revenge hack

Hacktivists enraged by suggestion financial giant snooped on them

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Miscreants affiliated with hacking collective Anonymous have dumped online a huge cache of data supposedly lifted from insecure systems at a Bank of America contractor.

The self-styled Anonymous Intelligence Agency (Par:AnoIA) leaked 320MB of emails and other information that suggests the banking giant is running an online intelligence gathering operation against hacktivists.

The cache includes memos from IT contractor TEKsystems to the bank's security staff, reporting chat room and social network reconnaissance. The data dump also supposedly includes the source code for OpenCalais - a natural language processing (NLP) text analytics and data mining package from Thomson Reuters subsidiary ClearForest. The story goes that the software was used to make sense of data harvested from chat rooms.

"We were amused by the fact that there are actually paid analysts sitting somewhere reading the vast amount garbage that scrolls by in large public channels like #anonops and #voxanon," Par:AnoIA said in a statement accompanying the leak. "Even more amusing is the keyword list that was found, containing trigger words like 'jihad' or 'homosexual'."

The Anons alleged that the "overall quality of the research is poor and potentially false".

"The data clearly shows that the research was sloppy, random and valueless. Apparently a keyword list was used to match items of interest on IRC, Twitter and other social media," it claimed in its announcement [PDF].

The released archives, totalling well over 6GB, apparently also include salary and bonus details on hundred of thousands of executives and employees from various corporations all around the world, including Google supremo Eric Schmidt - although his income is publicly known.

The Anonymous Intelligence Agency claimed the swiped records were lifted from a "misconfigured server" hosted in Israel that was "basically open for grabs" rather than seized using security exploits and conventional hacking. Par:AnoIA claimed it received the info wad via an unnamed source. How this handler got hold of the data - especially the salary information - remains unclear.

The information disclosure, dubbed Operation Keyword, was followed by the release of a rough'n'ready video by Anonymous in which the financial giant is accused of acting against the interests of US homeowners.

Bank of America has previously been linked to attempts to gather intelligence on members of Anonymous and associated organisations, most notably the proposals put forward by former HBGary Federal chief exec Aaron Barr.

Barr proposed a disinformation campaign against WikiLeaks in the run up to the planned publication of Bank of America documents by the whistle-blowing website. He also planned to expose members of Anonymous. In retaliation, members of the collective hacked into HBGary Federal's systems, defaced its website, took over Twitter accounts and exposed 68,000 emails, including a presentation put together by the company along and two other data intelligence firms for Bank of America in 2010. ®

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