From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja

The Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB) says it has opened an investigation into allegations of data breach by two major banks, Guaranty Trust Bank (GT) Plc Bank and Zenith Bank.

NDPB said the investigations were triggered by allegations of unlawful disclosure of banking records to a third party and unlawful access and processing of personal data.

“According to the directive of the National Commissioner and CEO, NDPB, Dr Vincent Olatunji, the investigation covers the data governance practice of the banks in all their branches in Nigeria and extends to all third parties carrying out data processing activities. The Bureau notes with concern that many data privacy and protection regulations and best practices are hardly implemented down the organisational strata of major data controllers in Nigeria,” says a statement signed by Babatunde Bamigboye, NDPB
Head, Legal Enforcement and Regulation.

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The NDPB further urged businesses to follow the Federal Government circulars and general compliance notices instructing them to provide the Bureau with the names of their data protection officers and contacts.

“There are reports by Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) which indicated that within 9 months of 2020, fraudsters attempted 46,126 attacks and they were successful on 41,979 occasions representing 91% of the time! This level of vulnerability to data breaches is unacceptable and it can only be addressed through foolproof data security and data privacy measures by data controllers/data processors in the industry.

“The National Commissioner enjoins all financial institutions to emulate the example of the Central Bank of Nigeria in compliance with the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) 2019 and in creating a robust data governance system. The National Privacy Week is an opportunity for all organisations to set their records straight on how they handle the data of citizens. Enforcement measures will be taken against willful violators of privacy rights forthwith,” it said.