R. Kinney Williams & Associates
R. Kinney Williams
& Associates

Internet Banking News

February 18, 2001

FYI - On February 14, 2001, The Federal Reserve released remarks about E-Commerce made by Vice Chairman Roger W. Ferguson, Jr. at the Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/speeches/2001/20010214/  

INTERNET COMPLIANCE - Electronic Fund Transfer Act (Regulation E)

Generally, when online banking systems include electronic fund transfers that debit or credit a consumer's account, the requirements of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act and Regulation E apply. A transaction involving stored value products is covered by Regulation E when the transaction accesses a consumer's account (such as when value is "loaded" onto the card from the consumer's deposit account at an electronic terminal or personal computer).

Financial institutions must provide disclosures that are clear and readily understandable, in writing, and in a form the consumer may keep. An Interim rule was issued on March 20, 1998 that allows depository institutions to satisfy the requirement to deliver by electronic communication any of these disclosures and other information required by the act and regulations, as long as the consumer agrees to such method of delivery.

Financial institutions must ensure that consumers who sign up for a new banking service are provided with disclosures for the new service if the service is subject to terms and conditions different from those described in the initial disclosures. Although not specifically mentioned in the commentary, this applies to all new banking services including electronic financial services.

The Federal Reserve Board Official Staff Commentary (OSC) also clarifies that terminal receipts are unnecessary for transfers initiated online. Specifically, OSC regulations provides that, because the term "electronic terminal" excludes a telephone operated by a consumer, financial institutions need not provide a terminal receipt when a consumer initiates a transfer by a means analogous in function to a telephone, such as by a personal computer or a facsimile machine.

Additionally, the regulations clarifies that a written authorization for preauthorized transfers from a consumer's account includes an electronic authorization that is not signed, but similarly authenticated by the consumer, such as through the use of a security code. According to the OSC, an example of a consumer's authorization that is not in the form of a signed writing but is, instead, "similarly authenticated," is a consumer's authorization via a home banking system. To satisfy the regulatory requirements, the institution must have some means to identify the consumer (such as a security code) and make a paper copy of the authorization available (automatically or upon request). The text of the electronic authorization must be displayed on a computer screen or other visual display that enables the consumer to read the communication from the institution. Only the consumer may authorize the transfer and not, for example, a third-party merchant on behalf of the consumer.

Pursuant to the regulations, timing in reporting an unauthorized transaction, loss, or theft of an access device determines a consumer's liability. A financial institution may receive correspondence through an electronic medium concerning an unauthorized transaction, loss, or theft of an access device. Therefore, the institution should ensure that controls are in place to review these notifications and also to ensure that an investigation is initiated as required. 

INTERNET SECURITY - We continue our review of the FDIC paper "Risk Assessment Tools and Practices or Information System Security."

After the initial risk assessment is completed, management may determine that a penetration analysis (test) should be conducted. For the purpose of this paper, "penetration analysis" is broadly defined. Bank management should determine the scope and objectives of the analysis. The scope can range from a specific test of a particular information systems security or a review of multiple information security processes in an institution.

A penetration analysis usually involves a team of experts who identify an information systems vulnerability to a series of attacks. The evaluators may attempt to circumvent the security features of a system by exploiting the identified vulnerabilities. Similar to running vulnerability scanning tools, the objective of a penetration analysis is to locate system vulnerabilities so that appropriate corrective steps can be taken.

The analysis can apply to any institution with a network, but becomes more important if system access is allowed via an external connection such as the Internet. The analysis should be independent and may be conducted by a trusted third party, qualified internal audit team, or a combination of both. The information security policy should address the frequency and scope of the analysis. In determining the scope of the analysis, items to consider include internal vs. external threats, systems to include in the test, testing methods, and system architectures.

A penetration analysis is a snapshot of the security at a point in time and does not provide a complete guaranty that the system(s) being tested is secure. It can test the effectiveness of security controls and preparedness measures. Depending on the scope of the analysis, the evaluators may work under the same constraints applied to ordinary internal or external users. Conversely, the evaluators may use all system design and implementation documentation. It is common for the evaluators to be given just the IP address of the institution and any other public information, such as a listing of officers that is normally available to outside hackers. The evaluators may use vulnerability assessment tools, and employ some of the attack methods discussed in this paper such as social engineering and war dialing. After completing the agreed-upon analysis, the evaluators should provide the institution a detailed written report. The report should identify vulnerabilities, prioritize weaknesses, and provide recommendations for corrective action.

Please remember that we perform vulnerability testing and would be happy to e-mail your financial institution a proposal. Please send an e-mail to Kinney Williams at examiner@yennik.com for more information.

 

PLEASE NOTE:  Some of the above links may have expired, especially those from news organizations.  We may have a copy of the article, so please e-mail us at examiner@yennik.com if we can be of assistance.  

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