Financial sector organisations are failing to fully protect confidential customer data, according to research by the Ponemon Institute.

Data integration firm Informatica commissioned the survey of 437 senior IT professionals in the financial services industry across the UK.

When it comes to data management, over 70 percent of respondents said the the protection of real customer data in the development and testing stage of new applications and services - for example online banking tools - was a "primary concern".

Despite this, almost three quarters of respondents (74 percent) admitted to a lack of confidence or uncertainty in their organisation's capabilities when it comes to protecting customer information.

Nearly 40 percent admitted their organisation had experienced a data loss or theft. And 90 percent said they use real customer data in the testing stage of new products and services.

"There appears to be an overwhelming lack of confidence from IT professionals that their organisations have the right measures in place to ensure that customer data remains protected and the business remains out of the firing line from industry regulators," said John Poulter, senior vice president for EMEA at Informatica.

"To avoid a hefty fine from bodies such as the FSA, it's essential that organisations clearly define their data management strategy, implement best practice and are observant when it comes to making sure that the same level of data management quality is delivered across the business at all times, whether as a part of live customer services, or in the development stages of new ones," said Poulter.

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