December 1st, 2010
05:22 AM GMT
(CNN) – As the media fallout from WikiLeaks’ revelations of U.S. diplomatic cables continues to spiral, founder Julian Assange claims the next ‘megaleak’ will target a big U.S. bank.
In an interview with Forbes, Assange said he will release “either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents” early next year and he claims the revelations will be on par with Enron, the energy trader that collapsed in 2001. The resultant scandal also took out venerable accounting firm Arthur Anderson.
He wouldn’t reveal the name of the bank or the nature of potential allegations.
Speculation has run rampant on who the target may be. For the record, the top five U.S. banks are: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Wachovia and Wells Fargo.
But Assange may have already leaked his own leak in an interview with Computerworld last year when he said WikiLeaks was sitting on five gigabytes from a Bank of America executive’s computer.
“More than a year ago WikiLeaks claimed to have the computer hard drive of a Bank of America executive,” bank spokesman Scott Silvestri told the McClatchy Tribune news service. “Aside from the claims themselves we have no evidence that supports this assertion. We are unaware of any new claims by WikiLeaks that pertain specifically to Bank of America.”
Regardless, the board rooms of major banks are no doubt filled with strategy meetings on what to do if and when this next ‘megaleak’ hits their business.
“If this is an Enron situation, and (the company) has been doing criminal activity, they’re not going to be able to spin their way out of wrong doing,” said Damian Coory, Hong Kong managing director of Edelman, the international public relations firm.
“First mistake managers make in this situation is to think short term, which is linked to a denial phase … when you’re at fault, you have to accept the extent to which you are at fault,” Coory said. “That’s what happened with Enron –- they held on to this belief that this thing is going to go away. The reality is it can come crumbling down in a day.”
We live in the age of asymmetric attacks. A small group of terrorists operating from a backwater nation in central Asia defined the first decade of the 21st century with the September 11 attacks. Now a thumb drive from a low-level military intelligence soldier, handed to a website operating with a few people, has put U.S. foreign policy on the global defensive.
Can the reputation of a multinational corporation be felled by a similar attack? We may soon see.
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