The confidential account details of thousands of banking customers have been exposed to fraud following a blunder by the Australian High Tech Crime Centre (AHTCC).
According to a report by The Australian newspaper, the account details of 3500 customers from 18 banks were lost in April when a police officer with the AHTCC misplaced a computer memory stick while travelling to London.
The device contained information about an investigation into a Russian mafia Internet fraud and included the details of customers who had fallen victim to the scam by providing banking details to bogus e-mail requests.
Embarrassingly, the data was not encrypted or secured in any way, in direct contravention of AHTCC best practice recommendation and procedures for transporting sensitive personal information.
Furthermore, affected bank customers were not informed that their account data had been exposed, says the report.
Kevin Zuccato, AHTCC director, told reporters that the agency did not want to alert criminals to the existence of the lost memory stick, adding that there was not enough personal information on the file to enable criminals to commit further frauds.