Marijuana Dispensaries Suffer Outages Linked to Cyber Attack

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marijuana dispensaries suffer outages linked to cyber attack

MJ Freeway, a Denver based company that provides software for marijuana dispensaries all across the country, fell victim to what appears to be a cyber attack on Sunday morning. According to tweets released by the company, they experienced an outage and were not able to access inventory or process transactions. They found the cause to be a cyber attack on the company’s main databases and backups. With over 1000 clients in 23 states using the system to run their marijuana dispensaries, some businesses suffered from the blow. Several dispensaries closed down while others took orders by hand which created long lines and a lot of inconvenience.

Attack Aimed at “Corrupting, Not Extracting, Data”

marijuana dispensaries hit software cyber attack
The cyber attack appears to have not extracted any customer information. 

MJ Freeway made a statement on the company’s official Facebook page making it clear that customer data was not at risk and the attack was not directed at customers. Jeannette Ward, who is MJ Freeway’s marketing director, told The Cannabist that “the attack was aimed at corrupting, not extracting, data. What that means is all client-patient data is still protected, still safe, still encrypted and was not viewed by the attackers.” A forensic investigation is underway to discover the exact origin of the attack. Ward has communicated that the company is likely to follow through with a criminal investigation.

MJ Freeway Working to Regain Order

The staff at MJ Freeway are working hard to remedy the situation which has meant manually recreating historical records for all of their clients. The company’s sales and inventory system is widely used by marijuana dispensaries across the country to make sales, track inventory and organize the necessary reports that need to be sent to state regulators as well as fulfill many other business needs. Without the software, dispensaries have been left vulnerable. The company is currently moving all of their clients to a working system and the transition should be complete by later this week. Initially the company had hoped to have the issue resolved by today, although according to Ward, it is taking longer than anticipated.

Impacted Marijuana Dispensaries That Remained Open

mj freeway crash finds marijuana dispensaries using pen paper fill orders
Marijuana dispensaries that remained open had to use old school methods to bypass the MJ Freeway crash.

While many dispensaries had to close, some still remain open. Nevada Wellness is one such business that created a manual process for handling customers. The owner of the business, Frank Hawkins, expressed relief and gratitude over being able to remain open, although he said it is taking 10 to 20 minutes longer to serve every customer. Ryan H. Smith, director of operations for The Clinic, a company that runs 5 dispensaries, said that although it is taking longer to process orders, they are still able to help customers and remain open. According to Smith, 98 out 100 customers are understanding about the system being down. “Certainly being down and having issues like this is not a good thing. But we have a process in place to deal with times when the system goes down,” explained Smith.

Another technical issue occurred to MJ Freeway in 2014 which led to the company being affected for several days. Since then they have backup systems and procedures in place to deal with technical issues like this. The cyber attack happened to their current, existing system. A brand new upgraded system is being made available later this month to dispensaries that are interested.

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