Federal regulators on Friday reissued guidelines advising bank and thrift management on how to protect computer systems from fraud or sabotage in the weeks surrounding Jan. 1.

Compiling separate year-2000 advisories sent over the past year, the agencies recommended that managers ensure that computer staff and external contractors have cleared background checks.

The list of 11 reminders also suggests that employees keep passwords and account names confidential from any unauthorized parties requesting the information purportedly to fix an urgent problem.

"Hackers may step up their activities at a time when it may be difficult for financial institutions, without adequate safeguards, to detect or distinguish between a routine software or operations program, a year-2000 related problem, or fraudulent activity," the advisory stated. -- Katharine Fraser

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