Top Four Cyber Security Threats in the Cannabis Industry

September 20, 2021
by Backcross Solutions

The cannabis industry has become a leading target for cybersecurity attacks. The legal marijuana industry is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years. The growth is spurred by the legalization of recreational marijuana in many US states and countries like Canada and the growing adoption of cannabis as a pharmaceutical product. As cannabis businesses are opening more frequently, Backcross Solutions is positioned to help your company protect your customers.

At Backcross Solutions, we are well versed in the types of vulnerabilities that cyber hackers exploit. We also realize that the impact of such heinous crimes can be catastrophic for both you as the business owners and your consumers. While hackers are continually looking for the weakest link in your organization, we are ready to help you develop the proper security systems to combat their attacks. Knowing your shortcomings is an integral part of our solutions.

With that in mind, let’s discuss the top 4 cyber security threats in the cannabis industry.

1. Phishing

Phishing is one of the oldest tricks in the book for cybercriminals. Phishing involves hackers impersonating an individual or entity by sending a fake email. This fake email is intended to dupe the recipient into sharing confidential information or potentially downloading some form of malicious software. According to a study, 91% of cyber-attacks are phishing scams. [1] At Backcross Solutions, we are constantly advising our team and our clients to never download attachments from an unknown sender and never share personal information with anyone. We believe cannabis retailers and their staff can avoid being the victims of phishing scams by never sharing personal information (credit card information, passwords, etc..) over email.

2. Password Management

While 9 out of 10 cyber-attacks are phishing scams, 8 out of 10 cyber breaches are directly related to stolen and/or weak passwords. We continually encourage our clients to have complex passwords to protect their cannabis business. As your IT partner, our job is to remind you that your password is what stands between your information and a hacker. We implore our team and our clients to create complex passwords, as that decreases the possibility of your data being stolen. Our recommendation on password security is to generate passwords containing at least 12 characters, including both numbers and symbols in your password. We also encourage our clients to change their passwords every 6 months.

3. Public WI-FI

While public wi-fi has enabled more internet access worldwide, it has also led to an increase in hacking. We encourage our clients to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to utilize public wi-fi. An additional step that we encourage using is a private window on your browser. If none of these options are available to you, we recommend not handling any sensitive data on public wi-fi. It has become a more common practice for businesses to allow their employees to work from remote locations, specifically throughout the pandemic. These locations would include airports, cafes, and hotels. Studies show that six out of every ten organizations allow their employees to connect their company-issued devices to public wi-fi networks. Keeping your company’s devices and data safe is of utmost importance to us at Backcross Solutions.

4. Ransomware

Ransomware attacks lock and encrypt data and then demand ransom to restore access. Cybercriminals will encrypt any data they can get their hands on and demand ransom for its release. As technology continues to fuel the budding cannabis industry, hackers are becoming more interested in asking for ransom from cannabis business owners. The scary part of a ransomware attack is that you may never gain access to your data again, even after making the ransom payment. At Backcross Solutions, we encourage our clients to take steps like complex passwords and restrict their networks’ access by setting up strong security perimeters.

According to the State of the Legal Cannabis Markets report from BDS Analytics and Arcview Market Research, legal pot sales will hit $40.6 billion in 2024. This represents a 24.5 percent growth over the period 2018 to 2024. [2] This exploding industry has become a prime target for cybercriminals, and we at Backcross Solutions would love the opportunity to help you protect your business and your customers.