Industry

Commonwealth Bank loses nearly 20million customers' financial statements

Commonwealth Bank loses nearly 20million customers' financial statements

The bank issued a statement on Wednesday admitting in 2016 it lost back up data containing the historical customer statements, affecting nearly 20 million accounts.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia said in a statement it had failed to track down two magnetic tapes on which the information was recorded and which had been set aside for destruction in May 2016.

"In May 2016 we were unable to confirm the scheduled destruction of two magnetic tapes used to print bank statements". Teams retraced the route of a bank subcontractor's vehicle to look for the backup drives but couldn't find any trace of them, BuzzFeed reported.

If you want to see that failure to learn from mistakes in action, check out the bank executives telling the ABC this morning that actually, not telling customers was probably a "good decision".

The statements, containing customers' names, addresses, account numbers and transaction details from 2000 to 2016, were stored on two magnetic tapes which were lost by sub-contractor Fuji-Xerox past year.

Acting group executive for retail banking Angus Sullivan told radio station 3AW that while the bank is aware that 19.8 million customer accounts were affected by the lost tapes, it is not clear exactly which customers were affected.

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The bank launched an independent investigation, through KPMG, and informed the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) and banking regulator, APRA.

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 tapes contained customer names, account numbers, addresses, and transaction details. According to CBA, KPMG found the "most likely scenario was the tapes had been disposed of". So, they simply concluded that the tapes could have been destroyed. It did not tell customers because "we balanced the need to alert customers without unnecessarily alarming them", he said.

A Commonwealth Bank subsidiary last night swung into damage control after confirming that a data breach compromised the personal email addresses of its customers, which included staff employed at the Reserve Bank.

"But this maintaining data security is of vital importance for everybody, whether it's the private sector or governments, and if there is a serious data breach or loss, the people affected should be advised so they can take steps to protect themselves".

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.

On Tuesday, a report by the country's financial services regulator slammed the bank for a complacent culture and ineffective board after a series of scandals.


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