Rounding out our discussions of regulatory compliance and
disaster recovery (DR), we’ll take a look this week at the Federal Deposit
Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and what
regulations it sets forth for banks and similar financial institutions when it
comes to DR planning.

The FDIC is a government agency responsible for the oversight
of banking and lending institutions to ensure that in the event of a crisis,
depositors’ monies can be returned to them on demand. Essentially, this means
that if all else fails, the FDIC will insure each depositor for up to a
specified amount of cash—the amount posted at the bank and in all contracts and
other written instruments. Until recently, the FDIC has been very lax on even
offering guidance on DR for member institutions, but it has changed its tune

still maintain that DR plans must be in place and functional
before insurance can be issued, and it must be proven to remain intact in order
for each FDIC audit to be passed. However, the criteria for what will make a
successful DR plan has become much more involved over the past several years.

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For example, FDIC
now routinely question bank employees about what solutions are
in place for backup and recovery of sensitive data—such as account information.
They also grill management about what technology has changed since the last
audit, how the board of directors has been kept up-to-date on this technology,
and how it will be protected. All of this means that your role as an IT worker
becomes a lot more visible, since management must answer these questions. Here
are the primary questions you will be asked regarding DR by an FDIC auditor,
according to the FDIC’s “Information
Technology Examination Officer’s Questionnaire:”

  • Do you have an
    organization-wide disaster recovery and business continuity program (Y/N)?
    If yes, please provide the name of your coordinator:
  • Are disaster recovery and
    business continuity plans based upon a business impact analyses (Y/N)? If
    yes, do the plans identify recovery and processing priorities (Y/N)?
  • Is disaster recovery and
    business continuity included in your risk assessment (Y/N)?
  • Do you have formal agreements
    for an alternate processing site and equipment should the need arise to
    relocate operations (Y/N)?
  • Do business continuity plans
    address procedures and priorities for returning to permanent and normal
    operations (Y/N)?
  • Do you maintain offsite
    backups of critical information (Y/N)? If yes, is the process
    formally documented and audited (Y/N)?
  • Do you have procedures for
    testing backup media at an offsite location (Y/N)?
  • Have disaster
    recovery/business continuity plans been tested (Y/N)? If yes,
    please identify the system(s) tested, the corresponding test date, and the
    date reported to the Board.

IT security is also scrutinized during your regulatory audits.
FDIC examiners are instructed to ask about access control for data systems and the
security protocols that you have in place at the physical plant and across the network;
in addition, auditors may demand an outline of your network topology for
review. This means that you’re going to be working very closely with compliance
officers from your company in order to provide this information and interpret
the results.

The FDIC only regulates banking and similar institutions, but
the lessons learned from these regulations can offer a firm base for DR planning
in many other fields. Even if you don’t have an FDIC auditor banging on your
door, the questions they ask can be a very valid aid in securing your own

To see the other recent articles on DR and compliance, check out the Disaster Recovery archive page.