Bank of America website slows; Prophet film threat made

Tue Sep 18, 2012 10:21pm EDT

An ATM machine at a Bank of America office is pictured in Burbank, California August 19, 2011. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

An ATM machine at a Bank of America office is pictured in Burbank, California August 19, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Fred Prouser

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(Reuters) - Bank of America Corp's online banking site suffered intermittent problems on Tuesday amid threats on the Internet that a group was planning to launch cyber attacks on the bank and other U.S. targets to protest a film that has stirred unrest in the Middle East.

Someone claiming to represent "cyber fighters of Izz ad-din Al qassam" said it would attack the Bank of America and the New York Stock Exchange as a "first step" in a campaign against properties of "American-Zionist Capitalists."

"This attack will continue until the Erasing of that nasty movie. Beware this attack can vary in type," said the statement on an internet bulletin board known as pastebin.com, where hackers often post such threats. It was not possible to verify the identity of the person who posted the statement.

A short film mocking the Prophet Mohammad, made with private funds in the United States and posted on the Internet, has ignited days of demonstrations in the Arab world, Africa, Asia and in some Western countries.

Bank of America said its website is available but some customers may experience occasional slowness. "We are working to ensure full availability," bank spokesman Mark Pipitone said.

Asked whether the website was the victim of a denial-of-service attack, he said: "I can tell you that we continuously take proactive measures to secure our systems."

The New York Stock Exchange, operated by NYSE Euronext, declined to comment.

Bank of America customers reached by Reuters in New York, Georgia, Ohio and Michigan said they could not access the website.

Last year, the No. 2 U.S. bank experienced six days of problems with its website, which it blamed on heavy traffic and an upgrade of its systems. The site allows customers to check balances, transfer money and make payments.

(Reporting By Rick Rothacker in Charlotte, North Carolina and Jim Finkle in New York; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Tim Dobbyn)

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