Bank of Ireland Governor Richard Burrows spoke today of his horror over the theft of four laptops containing personal details of 10,000 customers.
The computers from the bank’s life assurance division were stolen last year but the company only admitted the security breach days ago.
Mr Burrows said an internal inquiry had revealed three of the laptops were taken from cars and the fourth was stolen either from an employee’s home or branch.
Describing the thefts as an “internal bungle”, Mr Burrows said: “I’m horrified.
“There has been a very serious internal lapse and we have an investigation under way to find out why it was so.”
The bank chief said that the focus today was on customers.
“The investigation will produce all the other answers in due course,” he said.
No member of staff has been suspended over the loss of such sensitive data, the Governor revealed.
Mr Burrows said it was much too early for disciplinary action as the investigation had only started.
“The consequences of all of this will later,” he said.
Mr Burrows is the former managing director of Bushmills and spent four years with the company from 1972.
Bank of Ireland said the thefts affected customers at the Drogheda, Dunleer, Bagnelstown, Court Place Carlow, St Stephen’s Green, Tallaght and Montrose branches.
The laptops held medical backgrounds, bank accounts, names and addresses.
The information had not been encrypted with secure codes but Mr Burrows revealed the bank was now moving rapidly to encrypt all laptops used by employees.
It is understood the bank relied on normal passwords for data security and this was seen as perfectly adequate.
Encryption was now regarded as a recognised means of keeping the information safe, Mr Burrows said.
“There has been no evidence of any fraud or any attempted fraud from the accounts of the affected customers,” he said.
The laptops were stolen between June and October of last year but the Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes, who is investigating, was only told about the theft last Friday.