Australia's largest bank loses records of 20 million accounts

A view of a Commonwealth Bank of Australia branch in Sydney Australia

"Maintaining data security is of vital importance for everybody, whether it's the private sector or governments, and if there's a serious breach or loss, the people affected should be advised so they can take steps to protect themselves", Turnbull said. So, they simply concluded that the tapes could have been destroyed.

The Commonwealth Bank says it's cooperating.

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. "In 2015, a company in Victoria rang me and said, "We have finished the canvas for your caravan".

"But we also need to recognise that based on CBA's statements, it seems highly likely the data never fell into malicious hands and whilst it's natural for people to feel that their privacy has been violated, it seems highly unlikely any unauthorised party saw the data and that it will result in any tangible loss or impact on them".

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

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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.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority said on Tuesday that community trust in Australia's banks had been "badly eroded" and CBA had failed to meet expectations and "fallen from grace".

Australia's Treasurer Scott Morrison has warned that financial executives could face strong penalties, including jail sentences, from evidence brought up at the inquiry.

Mr Comyn admitted he had made errors after the inquiry found the bank broke anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws more than 50,000 times.

The data was held on a magnetic tapes which were supposed to be destroyed by sub contractor Fuji-Xerox in 2016.

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Porter said it was "unquestionable" that the banks' reputation had suffered after revelations in the royal commission including charging fees for services not provided.

But ongoing monitoring of the 19.8 million customer accounts involved is continuing, just in case. BuzzFeed News was first to report the incident and revealed that a subcontractor lost several tape drives containing financial data spanning more than a decade in 2016.

"We have however been contacted by the OAIC this week for additional information about this matter and the actions CBA undertook in 2016". The bank immediately put in place monitoring mechanisms to further protect customers.

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.

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