How to ensure your Cannabis Business is safe from cyber attacks
With various cybersecurity threats looming over all businesses, it only makes sense for cannabis brands to set up security measures to mitigate these risks.
Although the Office of Cannabis Management has not yet delegated any cybersecurity requirements for New York cannabis companies, your cybersecurity plan should not be a second thought or just thrown together because it is required. Cyberattacks are extremely costly, both directly and regarding reputation management.
While a variety of solutions may fit your specific needs, there are some common sense steps you can take to begin developing your plan and hardening your business systems against hacks, breaches and attacks.
Assess your risks for cyber breach
The first step in shoring up your cybersecurity is identifying your weaknesses and being knowledgeable of the sensitive data you may be storing. Assess what kind of data your business is harboring and where that data is held, then identify how it can be vulnerable to hackers, data leaks and breaches. These risks are where you want to start when developing your cybersecurity plan. It is key to quickly address your most obvious weak points. If you can identify them, there is no doubt that hackers can as well.
Harden your systems and information databases
Generally, it is best to ensure all your online systems and databases are hardened from breaches via hackers, spyware and bots. This could mean adding extra firewalls, additional levels of access authentication, access management measures and mobile device security management. Privacy is very important in cannabis because of the nature of the data you could be storing, especially in a medical setting which can include sensitive patient information. Like in any business, you want your customers to feel confident that the information you’re collecting from them is safe and not going to end up in a leak.
Establish intrusion detection systems
If a breach happens, you’ll want to know as soon as possible. Be sure to set up parameters for detecting a hack or leak and identifying the compromised database or information. While the hack may have already occurred, you’ll want to be able to move quickly to absolve the situation and prevent further information from being accessed or exposed.
Put together an incident response plan
If an incident happens, it’s critical to have a response plan that best addresses the situation and quickly rectifies it. You’ll need to identify the source of the hack, confirm which information has been accessed or leaked and be prepared to notify any individuals whose information may have been compromised. You’ll also need to develop a follow up plan for preventing a future hack and evaluate your access management measures and consider consulting a cybersecurity consultant to identify the best course of action.
Outsource your IT services
If you’re a relatively new cannabis startup, it’s likely that your business is not large enough to have a designated IT person or IT staff on hand. If this is the case, it will be worth it to outsource your IT services to ensure your cybersecurity hardening plan is upkept and closely followed by specialists. The prospect of handling your own cybersecurity can feel overwhelming, so collaborating with an IT consultant or service to set up your plan and data protocols is highly recommended to ensure you’re best-equipped to prevent hacks and data breaches.
In the current landscape, cybersecurity should be considered a foundational element in any thorough security plan, just as much as video surveillance or alarm systems are. But even without any requirements, with the stakes so high, it’s not something cannabis businesses can afford to ignore. With these simple steps you can begin preparing your company to be secure, physically and virtually, ensure your customers their privacy, and avoid the devastating consequences of a major data breach.