Stolen data worries financial institutions

Recent data losses at financial institutions has increased industry concerns about unauthorized access, according to Deloitte's 2005 Global Security Survey released this week.

The survey of global financial institutions found a 21 percent increase over last year in concerns about unauthorized access to personal information. It was rated an area of concern by 83 percent of all respondents.

Kevin Shaw, Deloitte security service Asia Pacific leader, said the high level of fear reflected the fact that breaches of customer privacy had the potential to undermine trust in financial institutions at a most fundamental level.

"There is a lot of focus now on addressing these issues, but storage of credit card numbers is a process of policy and procedure. The CardSystems breach was a result of failure by [the company] to follow its own policy and it was using the data in ways it should not have when it got hacked; there isn't a technical solution for this," Shaw said.

"The growth in external attacks has slowed because financial institutions have become far more effective at deploying technological defences such as intrusion detection, antivirus solutions and content filtering and monitoring, which means criminals have shifted their focus from technology attacks to human behaviour and gaps in policy enforcement and governance.

"They now prey on staff in financial institutions and their customers and any weakness they can find in human behaviour."

Shaw said Australian banks are performing well by global standards, particularly with staff training and threat awareness.

However, financial institutions worldwide are struggling to keep pace with the changing nature of IT security attacks.

Shaw said the role of a chief privacy officer is integral to combating the security landscape.

"At a global level, only 49 percent of respondents had established the role of chief privacy officer, although 5 percent acknowledged that they would have one by the end of the year," Shaw said.

"In Australia, most of the large financial institutions indicate they have some form of a privacy officer function; however, it is becoming increasingly critical that they consider an investment in a chief privacy officer with appropriate funding and authority."

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