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Nationwide fined for security breach

15 February 2007
Nationwide Building Society has been fined £980,000 for a lapse in security by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) after a laptop containing potentially sensitive customer information was stolen from an employee's home, but not investigated until three weeks later.

The hefty fine penalised the building society for failing to implement adequate security procedures or to begin an investigation into the incident sooner.

The breach was particularly serious because 11 million customers entrust Nationwide with their personal information, the FSA's director of enforcement Margaret Cole said.

"Nationwide's customers were entitled to rely upon it to take reasonable steps to make sure their personal information was secure," she stressed, suggesting that the building society's failure to take swifter action could undermine consumer confidence.

Nationwide's chief executive Philip Williamson hurried to "emphasise that there has been no loss of money from our customers' accounts as a result of this incident".

Although the FSA said that it viewed the swift and decisive fine as a warning to other financial services providers, some commentators will be concerned that the failings of internal security systems are only exposed when an investigation of this kind takes place.

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