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Thousands Of Ontario Cannabis Store Customers Contacted As Data Security Goes To Pot

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All pot was sold out in a few days after cannabis was legalized in Canada

File under whoa, dude. The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) has become the first pot vendor to get the breach disclosure munchies since Canada legalized the sale of weed. Bad puns to one side, this is serious stuff. The OCS has contacted some 4,500 customers after a supply chain data breach resulted in buyer addresses being offered for sale on the dark web. The breach itself happened on November 1st when the delivery tracking resource of Canada Post, used by the store to ship cannabis orders, was apparently compromised. In a statement, a spokesperson for the OCS says that it has “worked closely with Canada Post to identify the cause of this issue and to prevent any further unauthorized access to customer delivery information.”

Information that has been offered for sale on dark markets include the usual delivery tracking details of postal codes, purchase reference numbers, Canada Post tracking numbers, date of delivery and the names of whoever signed for the package. The latter is important, as it’s not necessarily going to be the same as the name of the customer and could just be limited to initials. Customer names were not, as far as I’m aware at this stage, part of the dataset that was compromised. Nor, seeing as this was just delivery tracking data we are talking about, was any payment information accessed.

Anyone who has ordered cannabis from the OCS and is concerned about their address data getting into the wrong hands, and let’s face it this is the kind of information that could pot-entially (sorry, couldn’t resist) be used for extortion purposes, should already have been contacted by email. The OCS also says that if no email has been received then those customers were not affected by the breach.

Canada Post, a state-owned Canadian ‘Crown’ corporation, adds in a statement of its own that “important fixes have been put in place by both organizations to prevent any further unauthorized access to customer information.” Andrew Tsonchev, director of technology at Darktrace Industrial, told me that if, as it appears currently, the only individuals affected were customers of the OCS specifically then “it looks like the hackers had specific targets in mind.” Which, as I’ve said, could have serious implications for blackmail had the full names of the customers also been compromised. Even so, Tsonchev admits that this will “still be distressing for the individuals affected, as hackers may ask for money in exchange for not making this information public.” According to Tsonchev, customer facing apps such as delivery trackers can provide a wide attack surface.

Patrick Martin, a cybersecurity analyst at RepKnight, isn’t at all surprised that this has happened. “There has been a significant increase in the number of supply chain breaches” he tells me, continuing “63% of breaches today are linked to third-party vendors in some way.” Although it’s hard to lay blame at the OCS for this one, the security went up in smoke at the Canada Post end of the supply chain after all.  Not everyone is as forgiving as me in this regard. “Supply chain risk is really about auditing the supply partners’ compliance” Alan Calder, founder and executive chairman at IT Governance, told me before concluding “many organizations accept assurances without actually checking.” It remains to be seen how forgiving the Ontario privacy commissioner is or, for that matter, customers of the Ontario Cannabis Store themselves…

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Canada Post issues new offer to employees as eBay pressures Ottawa to end strikes

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Striking Canada Post workers picket at the South Central sorting facility in Toronto on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018.


THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

OTTAWA — Canada Post has issued what it calls a “time-limited” contract offer to its employees in hopes of ending rotating strikes that have created a historic backlog of undelivered parcels.

The offer Wednesday to members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers came just hours after online sales and auctioning giant eBay called on the federal government to legislate an end to the contract dispute.

The Crown corporation’s four-year offer includes annual two-per-cent wage hikes, plus signing bonuses of up to $1,000 per employee.

The proposal, which the agency said was worth roughly $650 million, also contains new job-security provisions, including for rural and suburban carriers who have complained about precarious employment, and a $10-million health-and-safety fund.

But Canada Post said the offer was only viable if it can be agreed to before the holiday shopping rush. It has imposed a deadline of Nov. 17 for Canadian Union of Postal Workers members to accept the deal.

“This measure is to ensure we can reach a just-in-time resolution and deliver for Canadians ahead of the holiday rush,” the Crown corporation said in an email.

“The time limit is necessary as this offer is only affordable if we can clear the backlogs caused by the union’s strike activity and effectively deliver the quickly arriving massive Black Friday and Cyber Monday volumes.”

The head of eBay Canada sent a letter to the prime minister late Tuesday, urging him to force an end to the labour dispute. Andrea Stairs, eBay’s general manager for Canada, also warned that quick action was needed to ensure retailers don’t lose out on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

“I encourage the government to explore all available legislative solutions to alleviate the current situation,” Stairs wrote in the letter, which was also sent to Labour Minister Patty Hajdu and Public Services Minister Carla Qualtrough.

Continued rotating strikes at Canada Post will result in significant losses for small and medium-sized businesses across the country, Stairs warned, noting that smaller firms are unable to negotiate lower shipping fees with other delivery services.

While many businesses have adapted as best they can since the strikes began on Oct. 22, Stairs said adjustments online sellers have made so far to avoid delivery disruptions are unsustainable.

“Black Friday and Cyber Monday are critical sales opportunities for Canadian small and micro retailers, particularly those that sell into the U.S. — the largest consumer market in the world,” she wrote.

“Should the Canada Post service disruptions continue through this key retail moment, these (smaller businesses) will be seriously disadvantaged in competing for U.S. demand.”

Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which are annual shopping days known for their deep discounts, fall this year on Nov. 23 and 26.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned last week that his government would look at “all options” to bring the Canada Post labour dispute to an end if there was no significant progress in contract talks. Trudeau did not elaborate on what actions could be taken, although the previous Conservative government passed legislation to end a two-week lockout of postal employees in 2011.

A spokeswoman for Hajdu said Wednesday the government recognizes Canadians and small businesses rely on the postal service, and encouraged corporate and union negotiators to keep talking.

“We urge both parties to reach a deal soon to reduce the impacts to Canadians, businesses, Canada Post and their workers,” Veronique Simard wrote in an email.

Canada Post said Wednesday it was facing an unprecedented backlog of shipments and warned the situation could escalate quickly.

Postal union members picketed in Toronto on Tuesday for the third time in the past two weeks. The latest job action in Toronto was over by Wednesday morning, but the shutdown added to the backlog of items already waiting to be sorted and shipped, said Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton.

“We have now surpassed 260 trailers of parcels and packets waiting to be unloaded,” Hamilton wrote in an email, referring to the Gateway parcel processing plant in Toronto.

“The union just took down their pickets but we are backed up beyond anything we’ve ever seen in our history. With Toronto out on strike, we also missed two days of customer pickups, which will likely push that trailer total over 300 today.”

The previous peak for backlogged trailers reached 220 during last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping period, he said.

The union is negotiating contracts for 50,000 of its members in two divisions — urban carriers and rural and suburban workers. It said Tuesday that Canada Post had failed to address key issues, including health and safety, staffing levels and job security.

The two sides have been negotiating for almost a full year, with little success despite the assistance of government-appointed mediators.

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Canopy takes cautious approach to legal pot; posts loss, shares slide

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Section grower Corey Evans walks between flowering marijuana plants at the Canopy Growth Corp. facility in Smiths Falls, Ont., on Jan. 4, 2018.

Chris Wattie

Part of cannabis and investing

Canopy Growth Corp., Canada’s largest cannabis producer, saw its sales slide and its losses widen in the quarter that immediately preceded the launch of the legal recreational marijuana market.

Shares in the Smiths Falls, Ont.-based grower plunged more than 10 per cent Wednesday after the company revealed a $330-million net loss on revenue of $23-million in the quarter ended Sept. 30, an 11-per-cent drop in revenue from the previous quarter.

Co-chief executive Bruce Linton said the company took a deliberately cautious approach to the legalization of recreational cannabis on Oct. 17 – a tack that likely had a negative effect on sales. Just $700,000 of the company’s quarterly revenue came from deliveries to the recreational market – to stock shelves ahead of legalization. Canopy said it prioritized wholesale shipments to markets in Alberta and Quebec, which have bricks-and-mortar retail outlets, over online-only operations such as Ontario. He said Canopy stocked retailers with mostly flower to start, before expanding to soft-gel capsules and now prerolled joints, a category that proved to be among the most popular with consumers in the early days of legalization.

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The focus, Mr. Linton said, is on the long term.

“We want to be like a sustaining, winning race rather than a flash out of the gate,” he said on a call with analysts Wednesday.

Canopy is the third of the sector’s largest firms to report earnings this week, joining Aurora Cannabis Inc. and Tilray Inc. Together, the three companies – valued collectively at almost $30-billion – booked $66-million in total revenue and operating losses of $353-million.

Analysts had predicted that cannabis growers would sell more than they did in September to the recreational market, which launched two weeks after the reporting period ended. They expected Canopy to show revenue of as much as $91-million, according to a research note by Cowen Inc.

“It’s the first [time] in our history that I’m aware of where we actually had a slowdown,” Mr. Linton said, attributing the sales dip to lower medical sales in Canada and Germany. “But it was more of a distraction than a pattern.”

Canopy’s stock tumbled 10.9 per cent Wednesday in New York, falling to US$34.30 a share. Investors were dumping other pot stocks, too: Tilray fell 8.3 per cent, Aurora’s shares were down 8 per cent, and Aphria Inc. dropped 7.4 per cent

Despite supply issues plaguing the industry as a whole, Canopy is not low on product. As of Sept. 30, its inventory levels grew to 31,214 kilograms of cannabis flower, 21,499 litres of oil and 1,497 kilograms of soft-gel pills. That inventory and large production footprint may put Canopy “ahead of many other licensed producers (LPs) in its ramp and ability to supply adult-use channels,” analysts at BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. wrote Wednesday. “We believe there is significant uncertainty for the industry’s ramp schedules.”

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But accelerating for recreational sales and overseas expansion isn’t coming cheap. Canopy posted operating losses of $215-million for the quarter. It took a net write-off of $16-million related to culling plants because it didn’t have a processing licence at one of its facilities.

Canopy is aiming to capture a 30-per-cent share of Canada’s recreational market. “Now, it’s crank time,” Mr. Linton said. “And the provinces are starting to gain their momentum as well.”

Available now: Cannabis Professional, the authoritative e-mail newsletter tailored specifically for professionals in the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Subscribe now.

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Canada Post issues new offer to employees as eBay calls on feds to end strikes

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Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press</span>


Published Wednesday, November 14, 2018 4:43PM EST


Last Updated Wednesday, November 14, 2018 5:13PM EST

OTTAWA — Canada Post has issued what it calls a "time-limited" contract offer to its employees in hopes of ending rotating strikes that have created a historic backlog of undelivered parcels.

The offer came just hours after online sales and auctioning giant eBay called on the federal government to legislate an end to the Canada Post contract dispute.

The Crown corporation’s four-year offer, provided to The Canadian Press, includes annual two-per-cent wage hikes, plus signing bonuses of up to $1,000 per employee.

The $650-million proposal also includes new job-security provisions, including for rural and suburban carriers who have complained about precarious employment, and a $10-million health-and-safety fund.

But Canada Post says it’s only affordable if it can be agreed to before the holiday shopping rush, so it has imposed a deadline of Saturday, Nov. 17 for Canadian Union of Postal Workers members to accept the deal.

The prime minister warned last week that his government would look at "all options" to bring the labour dispute to an end if there was no significant progress in Canada Post’s contract talks with the union.

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