How financial planners, other companies are keeping hackers away during pandemic

Posted at 4:34 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 20:54:58-04

BROOKFIELD — Here in southeast Wisconsin, Mark Oswald's company Annex Wealth Management helps clients with retirement planning, investments, tax prep and more. The pandemic meant some of his team took their computers with clients' data home to work remotely.

"You take what is a very known and very secure environment and you let it go out into the world," said Oswald, the Chief Compliance Officer for Annex.

"We came to find out that one of our employees was using their neighbor's WiFi. Well, I can't control the neighbor's WiFi, I'll tell you that," Oswald told TMJ4 News during a Zoom interview.

Hackers didn't gain access, but with internet traffic and video conferencing on the rise during the pandemic Oswald says digital security is crucial in his line of work. That's why Annex is working with Brookfield tech company, Sikich.

The tech company has been working with local companies during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping employees transition to a work from home environment.

"At least have a vulnerable scan done or a have a proper penetration test done to make sure those systems are secure," said Michael Vieau, a cyber security expert with Sikich.

Vieau said hackers know you're working from home and might try and mimic your company's email to see if you'll take the bait.

"We see a lot of phishing attempts like 'Hey, I'm from the help desk, let me remote in and help you with your problems," Vieau explained.

He told TMJ4 News employees are falling for it. He's educating companies, making sure they have two factor authentication and other layers of protection.

Vieau said many weren't prepared to transition to remote work.

Oswald points out, another challenge is when employees return to the office, and bring back their laptops.

"We don't know what's on them. So, one of the things that we're doing right now is that we're scanning those devices before we plug them back into our environment," Oswald said.

Report a typo or error // Submit a news tip