FFIEC Updated Guidance on "Authentication in an Internet Banking Environment"

FFIEC - Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council
Date of Publication: 
June 2011

Knowledge Base item Tags:


On October 12, 2005, the FFIEC agencies1 (Agencies) issued guidance entitled Authentication in an Internet Banking Environment (2005 Guidance or Guidance).2 The 2005 Guidance provided a risk management framework for financial institutions offering Internet-based products and services to their customers. It stated that institutions should use effective methods to authenticate the identity of customers and that the techniques employed should be commensurate with the risks associated with the products and services offered and the protection of sensitive customer information. The Guidance provided minimum supervisory expectations for effective authentication controls applicable to high-risk online transactions involving access to customer information or the movement of funds to other parties. The 2005 Guidance also provided that institutions should perform periodic risk assessments and adjust their control mechanisms as appropriate in response to changing internal and external threats.

The purpose of this Supplement to the 2005 Guidance (Supplement) is to reinforce the Guidance’s risk management framework and update the Agencies’ expectations regarding customer authentication, layered security, or other controls in the increasingly hostile online environment. The Supplement reiterates and reinforces the expectations described in the 2005 Guidance that financial institutions should perform periodic risk assessments considering new and evolving threats to online accounts and adjust their customer authentication, layered security, and other controls as appropriate in response to identified risks. It establishes minimum control expectations for certain online banking activities and identifies controls that are less effective in the current environment. It also identifies certain specific minimum elements that should be part of an institution’s customer awareness and education program.