Many financial institutions in Europe have no way to test their security plans to protect customer data, according to a study.

Even more troubling: one in five banks surveyed didn’t know if they had suffered a data breach in the past three years. The from information management firms PwC and Iron Mountain also revealed that:

  • •    41 percent had no plans to test the effectiveness of their information risk strategy, or security plan that protects customer data
  • •    42 percent do not monitor or review the performance of tthe people and processes that protect customer data
  • •    22 percent “don’t know” whether they have lost or have had stolen customer information
  • •    45 percent cited a “lack of knowledge” as the main roadblock to installing a solid and an effective data risk plan

The survey results comes on the heels of , according to one hacker, who claims to hold 50 gigabytes of data from U.S. and foreign banks.

When it comes to the personally identifiable information that identity thieves seek, banks are a pot of gold. Consumers provide a trove of information to banks and credit issuers: full names, addresses, maiden names, Social Security numbers, passwords, PINs, account numbers and numbers to linked accounts. This is the stuff upon which our financial identities are built.

The survey raises grave concerns about data security at European banks that have few checks and balances—measures that assure accountability—over their internal data security programs.

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