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HSBC in further data loss

Stolen Hong Kong server contained data on 159K

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Security-incident prone bank HSBC has admitted losing a server containing transaction data on 159,000 Hong Kong-based account holders.

The bank said on Wednesday that the kit went missing during renovation work at a Kwun Tong district branch on 26 April, Reuters reports. Data held on the server included customer names, account numbers, transaction amounts and transaction types, but not PIN codes or online banking login credentials. Copies of the data were held on backup tapes.

HSBC sought to reassure customers by promising to cover any fraudulent losses stemming from the breach, for which it apologised, while stressing that the possibilities of data falling into the wrong hands are minimal.

"The server is protected by multiple layers of security. The risk of data leakage and fraudulent transactions resulting from the loss of the server is deemed to be low," HSBC said.

A spokeswoman for the bank explained that it waited two weeks before publically disclosing the server theft in order to conduct an internal investigation designed to discover the extent of the problem. Hong Kong police are continuing to investigate the theft.

The Hong Kong incident joins a growing list of security snafus involving HSBC. In April, HSBC UK admitted it has misplaced 370,000 customer details, which were put in the post a month before on an unencrypted disc. The envelope never arrived at its intended destination, a reinsurance firm.

HSBC has had all sorts of problems keeping its e-payments system up and running over recent weeks, while back in March it forgot to renew a digital certificate, leaving customers confronted by a potentially confusing warning.

That's all on the debit side, but to its credit HSBC recently foiled an alleged £70m fraud, leading to the arrest of a back office worker at the bank and three other suspects. ®

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