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High Risk, High Reward: The Cannabis Industry and Cyber Security

Risk: A situation involving exposure to danger.

Reward: To make a gift of something to (someone) in recognition of their services, efforts, or achievements.

The Cannabis Industry: A combination of risk and reward that has become a target to hackers.

Cyber Security and The Cannabis Industry: The solution to keeping hackers out, and sustaining the future of the cannabis industry.



The Cannabis industry, while unique, is as vulnerable to cyber-attack as any other market. Its lucrative nature compels hackers to target cannabis businesses as they have amassed both private information and business intelligence, including social security numbers, bank account information, credit card information, etc. Instead learn from MJ Freeway, a cannabis POS software company that fell victim to hackers, and discover how to optimize the your cyber security, and prevent hackers from targeting your cannabis business.


Learning from the MJ Freeway Attacks

MJ Freeway, one of the first companies to create “seed-to-sale” tracking and business software for the legal cannabis industry, recently fell victim to a string of cyberattacks. The Denver-based firm offers tracking software for several state regulatory systems as well as 1,000 cannabis retailers across the United States. There were two attacks: one in November of 2016, and one in January of 2017. The November 2016 pertained to stolen information; this information included customers’ date-of-birth and contact information, but fortunately did not contain any Social Security identification and credit or debit card numbers. The January 2017 attack consisted of an outage of the company’s inventory system; due to an attack on both its main and backup databases, this left the firm temporarily unable to process transactions.
By exposing the industry to recognize how cyber-hackers work, the MJ Freeway attacks set the precedent for why the cannabis industry must ensure the security of their point-of-sale (POS) system. Cannabis firms should regularly check-in with their POS provider to ensure full transparency regarding how to secure data, services, and privacy of patients.


Abiding by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

HIPAA is a national legislation intended to maintain security of protected health information. Under this law, medical cannabis information must demonstrate compliance in order to treat any and all patients who hold a medical cannabis card. Regularly checking-in with your POS and and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software helps ensure that an entire company is in compliance with HIPAA. Another preventative measure regarding HIPAA includes how cannabis firms collect information. For example, restricting information collection to a need-to-know basis limits the pool of vulnerable content able for hackers to get a hold of.


Keeping your business safe from cyber criminals is priceless.  But that doesn’t mean cyber security should cost more than your business is worth.  Contact Gigabit Systems to find out how we can keep your business safe at a price you can afford.


Understanding Cyber Security in a Healthcare Context

The ability to perceive cyber-security as an essential part of the cannabis healthcare system will help your cannabis firm maintain perspective. When considering how and why today’s healthcare system is more efficient than 20 years ago, almost all of the reasoning points back to technology. The exchange of information occurs more quickly than ever before, as documentation is easily stored within networks, too.

Cyber security keeps the healthcare industry up-and-running, not to mention provide life-saving services to their patients. By providing services like endpoint security, checking for vulnerabilities, penetration testing, and employee training, cannabis dispensaries and other businesses can keep their data safe and secure. Additionally, the POS software that is being used by the cannabis dispensary or other cannabis businesses, is only as good as its cyber security. Often times, the POS software will malfunction either by freezing, shutting down the software without permission, files are either corrupt or missing, etc. Many cannabis dispensary founders, owners, or CEO’s, don’t understand that it is not the software, but the lack of cyber security. These “glitches” or malfunctions are due to hackers gaining access to the software, and sending malware, phishing schemes, or just stealing private data.
The cannabis industry needs to understand just what technology can do, both positive and negative, for a single firm. The sooner that cannabis firms realize just how vital secured networks are to their healthcare counterparts (hospitals, pharmacies, private practices, etc.), the more likely the cannabis industry will value cyber security as an essential function.


Cannabis and the Future of Technology

There is more to the cannabis industry than what meets the eye. As an essential function towards many individuals and their quality of life. A single cyberattack can cause real, physical human interference. In sum, by learning from the MJ Freeway attacks, abiding by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and ultimately evaluating one’s cyber-security in the context of the health-care industry, the Cannabis industry can optimize their network security and continue to evolve.


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