Commonwealth Bank Confirms Data Breach of 19.8 Million Accounts

03 May, 2018, 15:58 | Author: Shannon Newton
  • A view of a Commonwealth Bank of Australia branch in Sydney Australia

After an exposé from BuzzFeed News revealed that the Commonwealth Bank had lost the data of some 12 million customers (across nearly 20 million accounts) in May 2016, the Australian financial giant has released a statement in its defence.

The bank said it could not confirm that the tapes containing the 15 years of data were destroyed. 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.

Under the new Notifiable Data Breaches scheme , which came into effect in February, it appears the Commonwealth Bank would have a legal obligation to let its customers know their data had been breached. The data on the tapes is said to have included names, addresses, account numbers and transaction details from 2000 to early 2016.

Reputation management experts, however, said CBA's move to use YouTube to take responsibility for the incident and reassure customers no personal data was stolen was a smart one.

NBR has asked ASB Bank (owned by CBA) if any New Zealand customer records were involved, and for the bank's policy on data breaches.

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The privacy commissioner was informed - but affected customers weren't told. But we're also sure this won't be the last freakish case of missing data that we'll find out about.

However, Commonwealth began sending emails to customers on Thursday, notifying them of the incident. As a result, it decided against notifying customers and stepped up its monitoring of impacted accounts.

The lender assured customers there was no need to worry as the tapes did not contain passwords, PIN numbers or other data that could be used for fraudulent purposes.

"We have however been contacted by the OAIC this week for additional information about this matter and the actions CBA undertook in 2016".

NAB confessed to its own data breach in late 2016, after it sent information such as the names, addresses and banking details of about 60,000 banking customers to a wrong email account.

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Australia's top financial regulator APRA released an excoriating report on CBA this week slamming a "widespread sense of complacency" at the bank, with Australia's Treasurer Scott Morrison saying he expected top executives at CBA would step down. The bank immediately put in place monitoring mechanisms to further protect customers.

National broadcaster ABC said the records were supposed to have been destroyed by a sub-contractor after the decommissioning of a data centre, but the bank never received documentation to confirm this happened.

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.

Porter said he would investigate whether the information commissioner should have advised the bank to voluntarily disclose the breach and whether the government was warned.

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