Will Your Data Go Up in Smoke?
The Importance of IT Security in the Cannabis Industry
By now you’re familiar with the headlines: A big‐name company (think Target, Yahoo!, Apple, et. al.)
becomes a victim of a cyber‐attack. As of this writing, the latest company to fall to this type attack was
the Cannabis Industry’s largest software‐as‐a‐service (SaaS) company. From the attack, their systems
were down for days, meaning all of their clients, dispensaries, grow operations, and testing labs were in
turn unable to perform the necessary work and functions they relied on from this company.
What you may not know is that ALL small businesses – including those in the cannabis world – are just as
likely to fall prey to hackers and others very willing to compromise your databases. This means your
patient data, personnel and financial data, and other sensitive information, are all at risk.
As the cannabis industry continues its rapid growth and becomes more complex, the need to protect
your invaluable data, systems, and databases is paramount. As example, this January cannabis
compliance software provider MJ Freeway was attacked. It’s been more than a week when this article
was written) since their systems were compromised, and they are still in the process of restoring
Here are two of the issues that caused this extended outage:
- Poor backups systems
- No redundant systems to protect their data
These are both often overlooked but crucial security steps for any company’s infrastructure, especially
one that offers “as a service” service, and is an area I see many companies fail to incorporate into their
The cost of an attack is staggering in terms of millions in lost revenue these operational disruptions
cause. From the inability to check in patients to being unable to track inventory and preform basic
accounting functions, each failure adds up huge recovery costs. In an already shady industry, you want
your systems put in place to minimize losses due to employee errors, oversights, and theft.
At CAM Business solutions, some of our clients actually use MJ Freeway, and since the attack their
operations have been severally diminished. ALL of their users have actually had to resort to using pen
and paper to keep track of their business operations. You can only imagine the potential losses these
companies have experienced.
Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidences. According to Radware, nearly half of businesses in
their 2016 Security Network Report had been the victim of a cyber‐attack.
No Longer an Option: The Cannabis Industry Needs IT Security
While attending the Marijuana Business Conference and Expo 2016 in Las Vegas, I personally spoke with
a number of cannabis software providers and cannabis‐related business owners who were fully
convinced they would not be attacked by hackers or have network safety issues.
This misplaced confidence will lead many cannabis business owners to operate without the necessary
precautions to adequately protect themselves when (not if) they will be subject to an online attack.
Along with the issues caused from the MJ Freeway outage, additional risks companies expose
themselves to with an unprotected network include:
- Private client and business data exposed and compromised.
- High loss of productivity and downtime.
- High costs to recover and restore data.
- Loss of client confidence, and consequently potential lost business/patients.
- If you are using SaaS (aka, “the cloud”) providers, and fail to have backup and/or redundant systems,
- your entire network is at the mercy of these providers.
Consulting with a top‐tier security firm is the first step to ensure the tips above are all covered, as well as
developing the comprehensive data security you need in this high‐risk cyber environment.
At CAM Business Solutions, we take the time to understand the unique needs of every client and their
needs, including critical compliance and regulatory issues, and any firm you speak with should do the
same. We work with and understand the cannabis industry and can be a solid strategic partner in
protecting and growing your business.
The time to secure your data and network is now; not after your valuable data goes up in smoke by the
invisible hands of hackers.
Michael Bowers is the Founder and President of CAM Business Solutions. You can find CAM at