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Next 'goldmine' for hackers - Personal Details of patients of Medical Marijuana or its Research?

Marijuana or cannabis is a much talked about topic for the last few months, both locally and internationally.

There were calls to legalise marijuana for medical purposes while an equally similar number if not more, said it should not be legalise. Around our neighbourhood, Thailand and South Korea already legalised it for medical purposes. Singapore, even though has not discussed it publicly, allows the National Research Foundation (NRF) which is part of the National University of Singapore to develop synthetic compounds found in the marijuana plant, to produce medicinal marijuana.

In the western world, Canada has legalised it and as a matter of fact, companies involved from cultivation right up to doing research and commercialising medical marijuana, are allowed to be listed on the Canadian Stock Exchange, helping these companies to raise funding from the public to fund further research into uses of marijuana for other medical ailments.

One of these companies, Natural Health Services, operator of Canada's largest network of medical cannabis patients recently suffered a data breach where customers personal information like medical diagnoses, medical notes on the allergies of the patients were stolen by hackers. The breach apparently happened from Dec 2018 to early January 2019. 

As expected and as usual, Natural Health Services (NHS) responded with the standard response similar to all other organisations that suffered a data breach - we are taking all necessary steps to ensure that this does not happen again. NHS, however, went one step better than most other organisations that were breached - they took the steps of notifying all their customers immediately and suggested to them to monitor for any unusual activities in their transactions with banks.

Is it just the patients' data that the hackers were after or this is a precursor for them to seek details of confidential research into the use of marijuana for treatment of other form of illness / sickness as this could possibly help rivals or new entrants from undertaking costly research and proceed straight into commercialising the product?


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