This article is brought to you by 420 Cyber, offering cybersecurity solutions tailored to the cannabis industry.


As legal cannabis, both medicinal and recreational, becomes more widely available throughout the United States, more and more businesses are getting into the game. But the influx of investment and new businesses has made the growing legal cannabis industry an attractive target for cyber criminals.

In the past, hacks affecting the cannabis industry have shutdown major software providers. Some of these hacks have even put the personal information of cannabis consumers at risk, says Etien Alcantara, CEO of 420 Cyber, a cybersecurity company serving the cannabis industry.

“We’ve observed information from cannabis industry hacks being exploited in darknet black markets and forums by nefarious actors,” says Alcantara. “Seeing that sort of thing was a major driver in our company’s efforts to educate the industry and curate a suite of cybersecurity offerings to thwart further victimization.”

With more and more cash and attention pouring into the cannabis industry, these criminals are not likely to halt their efforts anytime soon. And with new laws around protecting consumer data in California and Oregon on the horizon, cannabis companies that don’t adequately protect their data could face stiff fines in addition to losing the trust of their customers.

Cybersecurity Solutions Built for Cannabusiness

Unfortunately for cannabis entrepreneurs, finding the right cybersecurity solution to protect themselves and their customers isn’t easy. The security measures that come stock with POS software simply aren’t sufficient to protect against modern cyber threats like ransomware, spyware, and DDoS attacks.

Meanwhile, most mainstream cybersecurity companies do lots of business with the federal government, which makes these organizations wary of associating with cannabis industry clients while prohibition is still on the books federally. That leaves cannabis entrepreneurs in need of a solution that understands their industry and is built to meet their needs.

Identifying Industry Needs

It’s this growing niche that Alcantara is looking to fill with the cannabis-centered cybersecurity firm 420 Cyber. Her team has spent the last decade building a cybersecurity concern that monitors activity on the darknet, where illegally acquired consumer data like credit card numbers and passwords can be accessed cheaply and easily. This background helped them identify the next industry that would need their help—legal cannabis.

“While the green rush has helped entrepreneurs and investors create a thriving legal cannabis market, securing digital assets is often an afterthought,” says Alcantara. “We recognized the need for cannabis industry businesses and the organizations that service them to ensure they are not only compliant with current cybersecurity regulations, but proactively protecting their customers and investments.”

Cybersecurity threats can emerge from unexpected sources. 420 Cyber helps your business stay protected on all fronts. (Courtesy of 420 Cyber)

Building Cybersecurity Tailored to Cannabusiness

As she set out to build a digital security solution for cannabis entrepreneurs, Alcantara’s team at 420 Cyber first had to identify the tools that would be most important to those businesses. One priority was staying lean and not adding staff to oversee cybersecurity tools. To meet this need, 420 Cyber leverages the Security Operations Center (SOC) established at their current firm and puts those tools to use protecting cannabis businesses without demanding additional staffers or costly hardware and software.

Instead, the 420 Cyber team installs sensors on client networks that gather machine data and send it securely to their offsite SOC. There, data is analyzed in real-time by a combination of machine intelligence and human security experts working to weed out any irregularities or threats. Furthermore, with their darknet subject matter expertise, 420 Cyber’s security analysts are able to identify cannabis industry data leaks and threats on the surface net and darknet and prevent them from impacting clients and customers.

When their advanced AI technology identifies a real-time threat to their licensed cannabis customers, 420 Cyber’s SOC response team springs into action to prevent customer data from being stolen, alerts their customers to the attempt, and makes recommendations based on the vulnerability discovered.

“Having the right cybersecurity service provider to protect your assets in real-time is the difference between spending a couple thousand dollars now on preventive measures and potentially paying millions of dollars in fines and remediation later,” says Alcantara.

420 Cyber’s Security Operations Center combines artificial intelligence and human expertise to monitor for security threats. (Courtesy of 420 Cyber)

Security and Beyond

420 Cyber doesn’t just prize fast communication—they also aim to keep things thorough. Customers are provided the option to log in to their dedicated online security portal where they can learn the fine details of their security posture. That can come in handy during regulatory audits and even help reduce some insurance premiums.

However closely clients want to monitor their security situation, they can rest easy knowing 420 Cybers’ SOC team will be actively monitoring and alerting them to any potential risks. Having all these tools in one place along with an expert team helps ensure cannabis businesses are employing the latest best practices in cybersecurity and staying ahead of the always evolving compliance curve.

420 Cyber’s offerings also include physical real-world security options, including Video Active Surveillance Monitoring (VASM) facial recognition technology that lets security cameras recognize your customers even before you do. In addition to helping detect repeat visitors and preventing customers from exceeding their daily purchase limits, these quick-identification tools offer valuable analytics and information for dispensary owners. By blending security functions with marketing data, 420 Cyber’s tools can help dispensary owners develop tailored messaging and unique deals for regular customers before they even get to the cash register.

Whatever your team’s security needs are, 420 Cyber is eager to demonstrate how they can help. Alcantara’s team prides themselves on their ability to get security measures in place for their clients quickly and effectively.

“We understand that best practices and procedures are critical to protecting investments and sustainability in the competitive landscape of the cannabis industry,” says Alcantara. “That’s why we’re ready to assess the unique needs for each cannabis business and have them compliant and protected within 28 days of engagement.”

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