Ransomware attacks spur concern among cannabis companies

Ransomware attacks spur concern among cannabis companies

By Anna Peel

Imagine logging on to your business’ computer systems, only to find your most critical information and tools locked and inaccessible. A message demands a ransom, often to be paid in cryptocurrency, or the data will be locked forever or even possibly leaked online.

Ransomware attacks have spiked since the start of the pandemic, increasing 150% over 2019, part of a larger international trend going back ten years. This trend has caught many businesses off-guard and unprepared, opening them up to lost data, interrupted operations, and high financial expense. I chatted with cannabis executives from Regrow and Confia to discuss the risk posed by ransomware and the steps businesses need to take to be protected.

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malicious computer software that blocks access to computer systems and data until a ransom is paid. Sometimes, ransomware threatens to publish sensitive data online as well. Basic ransomware simply blocks a user from accessing their computer and can be reversed by someone with the skill to do it. More advanced software encrypts the computer’s data, more effectively locking the computer. Payment of the ransom is typically made using cryptocurrency, so it is untraceable.

Why Are Cannabis Companies Especially At Risk?

As an emerging industry, some cannabis companies may believe that they are too small to be a target. Others simply don’t understand the extraordinary risk involved. You don’t need to be a large company to be targeted by ransomware. It is estimated that between 50 and 75 percent of all ransomware attacks are on small businesses simply because they are the least protected and the least prepared.

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