The tool was released in June by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council as a way for banks to take stock of their preparedness against cyber threats. But because examiners are trained on the use of the tool, bankers have begun to fear that institutions that don't use it could find themselves in regulatory crosshairs.

The industry "fears the banking agencies … will force all financial institutions into one box and ultimately into using only those resources in the tool," Rose Oswald Poels, the president and chief executive of the Wisconsin Bankers Association, wrote in a letter to regulators last month. Institutions "should not be forced to spend hours justifying to examiners" about the use of alternative cybersecurity resources.

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