Published: Thu, May 03, 2018
Industry | By Johnnie Johnson

CBA lost backup tapes with 20m customers' details

CBA lost backup tapes with 20m customers' details

Australia's Commonwealth Bank lost the bank records of nearly 20 million people and decided not to reveal the breach to customers upon discovery since 2016, according to news-media reports.

Sullivan said in May 2016 the country's largest bank found it had lost two magnetic tapes containing 15 years of data on customer names, addresses and account numbers for 19.8 million accounts.

National Australia Bank chief executive Andrew Thorburn said the bank would likely be reviewing its own data processes after CBA's mass breach.

"A data disaster is coming", Brody said. The tapes were supposed to be destroyed by Fuji Xerox, a contractor that offers data destruction services, it reported.

The bank let the Australian information commissioner's office (OAIC) know of the breach after it became aware in 2016, but the OAIC said it would be examining the incident further following the release of a report from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) into the bank's culture on 30 April this year.

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CBA notified the appropriate regulators of the potential breach and kept them up to speed with the ongoing investigation but chose not to inform customers "in light of the investigations findings and the account monitoring in place".

The bank investigation team failed to find any traces of the tapes.

The tapes did not contained PINs, passwords or other data that could enable account fraud, Sullivan said. As a result, it decided against notifying customers and stepped up its monitoring of impacted accounts.

"We take the protection of customer data very seriously and incidents like this are not acceptable", Sullivan said.

"I have to say that. if that had happened today, the bank would have to publicly, would have to advise each of their customers about the loss of data under new laws we have brought in and have been operating since the beginning of this year".

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The bank hopes the tapes were destroyed, but as they're unable to confirm this, they have had to admit they're missing - with no confirmation of what happened to them.

And while it is highly unlikely customer data was compromised in this incident, the disclosure of banking details does heighten the risk of fraud, according to Hunt.

It said the issue was not cyber-related and there was no compromise of its technology platforms, systems, services, apps or websites and no evidence of customer harm.

But this week, the OAIC contacted CBA again, requesting additional information on the matter and the course of action undertaken by the bank.

Asked by Fairfax Media if there had been a data breach where customers were not informed, a spokesman for Westpac said it has controls in place to ensure customer information is protected in accordance with legal and regulatory requirements. At the time, the OAIC indicated it would take not action.

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