Circular
FFIEC Revised Guidance On information Security Risks
January 31, 2003
Circular No. 11496

To All Depository Institutions and Others Concerned in the Second Federal Reserve District:

In a press release, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) announced a revised guidance for examiners and financial institutions to use in identifying information security risks and evaluating the adequacy of controls and applicable risk management practices of financial institutions.

The safety and soundness of the federal financial industry and the privacy of customer information depend on the security practices of banks, thrifts and credit unions. The Information Security Booklet describes how an institution should protect and secure the systems and facilities that process and maintain information. The booklet calls for financial institutions and technology service providers (TSPs) to maintain effective security programs tailored to the complexity of their operations.

This guidance is the first in a series of updates to the 1996 FFIEC Information Systems (IS) Examination Handbook. These updates will address significant changes in technology since 1996 and incorporate a risk-based examination approach.

The FFIEC currently plans to issue the updates in separate booklets that will ultimately replace all chapters of the 1996 Handbook and comprise the new FFIEC Information Technology (IT) Examination Handbook. In addition to the booklet on information security issued today, future booklets will address business continuity planning, supervision of technology service providers, electronic banking, IT audit, payment systems, outsourcing, IT management, computer operations, and systems development and acquisition.

The FFIEC agencies plan to distribute these booklets electronically to financial institutions and TSPs. The documents will be available on the Internet through the FFIEC's InfoBase application. InfoBase will include each booklet in Adobe Acrobat PDF file format, as well as an online version with links to various resource materials, and an orientation to the handbook update process.

The electronic version of the Information Security Booklet is available at www.ffiec.gov/guides.htm.

Questions on this matter may be directed at this Bank to Barbara J. Yelcich, Examining Officer, Operational Risk Department.