In recent years, utilization of blockchain and NFTs in supply chains has gained popularity, given all the benefits it offers to the industry and how it makes work easier and more efficient in supply chain management.
For supply chain managers to remain competitive and maintain the most effective and modern processes, it is essential to be informed of emerging technology. An idea in particular, which optimizes how data is handled and safeguarded, is generating attention across international industries. Blockchain and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are now gradually paving their way into the supply chain management industry.
How Implementing NFTs in Supply Chains is Proving to be Useful
NFT, a blockchain-related technology, has tremendous logistics potential because it can guarantee considerably more precise traceability control. NFTs are digital records that allow for the unique identification of objects and their owners as well as the inclusion of specific extra information. The numerous supply chain stakeholders’ trust is enhanced because this information cannot be distorted. We now have access to the metadata for specific products, including information on their current owner, location, and attributes like weight, size, and certifications. As the item moves along the supply chain, the NFT, which is still kept in the blockchain network, receives updates with this information. It is possible to get a credible, thorough history of the product’s overall journey, from its origin until the moment the items reach their destination. Basically, NFTs add value to the supply chain management system in three ways :
NFTs enable us to identify the person in charge of a certain product at any particular point in time. Furthermore, the delivery of the product will not take place if the responsible party has not received the NFT, just as it will not be possible to send an NFT if the counterparty refuses to accept it.
Information is sent securely among all parties involved in the supply chain. To prevent entered data from being manipulated, erased, or replicated without permission, NFT information is saved on the blockchain network as a smart contract.
Knowing the logistical and manufacturing procedures the commodities have undergone, as well as where they have been and how long they have been there, is essential when working with perishable goods such as food, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and/or pharmaceutical products. NFT technology enables complete transparency, making it possible for anyone to get real-time access to complete product traceability information.
How Blockchain Is Beneficial for the Supply Chain
Companies can now track all kinds of transactions more securely and transparently, thanks to blockchain technology. The effect on the supply chain function could be enormous. Diamond tracking, food safety, oil supply chain and pharma supply chain are some of the main use cases of blockchain technology in logistics. The various benefits of blockchain for supply chain management are as follows:
Increasing Traceability and Visibility
Businesses can use blockchain to track a product’s history from its point of origin to its present location. A secure record of every transaction involving a product is created, providing a complete history from production through a sale.
Supply chain networks can be limited to one-up/one-down visibility. Blockchain supply chain solutions allow authorized parties better visibility across all supply chain activities, owing to distributed ledger technology, which offers a shared, single version of the truth.
The expense of moving goods can be minimized since blockchain enables real-time tracking of a product across the supply chain without the use of intermediaries. By eliminating these intermediaries, unnecessary costs, frauds, as well as the possibility of product duplication, can be reduced. Payments can be made directly amongst the parties of the supply chain using cryptocurrency, as opposed to relying on financial intermediaries like banks.
By integrating with and enhancing electronic data interchange (EDI) systems, blockchain technology could potentially assist various businesses in making enormous savings and minimizing inefficiencies. This will prove to be an incremental step in the supply chain once business partners begin exchanging papers digitally instead of using paper-based processes.
Helping Build Trust
For a product to stay credible and authentic, parties engaged in the supply chain must have mutual trust. Each stakeholder may access any old or new record, thanks to the timestamped data retained consistently in a blockchain-based supply chain solution, which enhances trust in the system.
A shared blockchain ledger provides a reliable and impermeable audit record of the transfer of information, stock, and revenue within a supply chain. Using a shared blockchain, businesses may synchronize logistical data, track shipments, and automate transactions. While doing so, they can transmit only the most relevant data without significantly altering their existing systems. Also, businesses can locate the source of fraud wherever it occurs with the help of comprehensive records.
For any business to succeed, innovation should be a forever on-going process. Integrating cutting-edge technologies in your organization is bound to give you an upper hand over your competitors. Utilization of technologies like blockchain and NFTs in supply chain management is expected to bring a revolution in the logistics industry like never before and its adoption at the earliest is what can take your supply chain business to another level.
With remote working the future for so many global workforces – or at least some kind of hybrid arrangement – is there an impact on email security we are all missing? Oliver Paterson, director of product management at VIPRE Security, believes so.
“The timeframe that people expect now for you to reply to things is shortened massively,” says Paterson. “This puts additional stress and pressure on individuals, which can then also lead to further mistakes. [Employees] are not as aware if they get an email with a link coming in – and they’re actually more susceptible to clicking on it.”
The cybercriminal’s greatest friend is human error, and distraction makes for a perfect bedfellow. The remote working calendar means that meetings are now held in virtual rooms, instead of face-to-face. A great opportunity for a quick catch up on a few emails during a spot of downtime, perhaps? It’s also a great opportunity for an attacker to make you fall for a phishing attack.
“It’s really about putting in the forefront there that email is the major first factor when we talk about data breaches, and anything around cyberattacks and ransomware being deployed on people’s machines,” Paterson says around education. “We just need to be very aware that even though we think these things are changing, [you] need to add a lot more security, methods and the tactics that people are using to get into your business is still very similar.
“The attacks may be more sophisticated, but the actual attack vector is the same as it was 10-15 years ago.”
This bears true in the statistics. The Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) found in its Phishing Activity Trends Report (pdf) in February that attacks hit an all-time high in 2021. Attacks had tripled since early 2020 – in other words, since the pandemic began.
VIPRE has many solutions to this age-old problem, and the email security product side of the business comes primarily under Paterson’s remit. One such product is VIPRE SafeSend, which focuses on misaddressed emails and prevents data leakage. “Everyone’s sent an email to the wrong person at some point in their life,” says Paterson. “It just depends how serious that’s been.”
Paterson notes one large FMCG brand, where a very senior C-level executive had the same name as someone else in the business much lower down. Naturally, plenty of emails went to the wrong place. “You try and get people to be uber-careful, but we’ve got technology solutions to help with those elements as well now,” says Paterson. “It’s making sure that businesses are aware of that, then also having it in one place.”
Another part of the product portfolio is with EDR (endpoint detection and response). The goal for VIPRE is to ‘take the complexities out of EDR management for small to medium-sized businesses and IT teams.’ Part of this is understanding what organisations really want.
The basic knowledge is there, as many organisational surveys will show. Take a study from the Enterprise Security Group (ESG) released in October in terms of ransomware preparedness. Respondents cited network security (43%), backup infrastructure security (40%), endpoint (39%), email (36%) and data encryption (36%) as key prevention areas. Many security vendors offer this and much more – but how difficult is it to filter out the noise?
“People understand they need an endpoint solution, and an email security solution. There’s a lot of competitors out there and they’re all shouting about different things,” says Paterson. “So it’s really getting down to the nitty gritty of what they actually need as a business. That’s where we at VIPRE try to make it as easy as possible for clients.
“A lot of companies do EDR at the moment, but what we’ve tried to do is get it down to the raw elements that every business will need, and maybe not all the bells and whistles that probably 99% of organisations aren’t going to need,” Paterson adds.
“We’re very much a company that puts a lot of emphasis on our clients and partners, where we treat everyone as an individual business. We get a lot of comments [from customers] that some of the biggest vendors in there just treat them as a number.”
Paterson is speaking at the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo Global, in London on December 1-2 around the rising threat of ransomware, and how the security industry evolves alongside this threat. Having a multi-layered approach will be a cornerstone of Paterson’s message, and his advice to businesses is sound.
“Take a closer look at those areas, those threat vectors, the way that they are coming into the business, and make sure that you are putting those industry-level systems in place,” he says. “A lot of businesses can get complacent and just continue renewing the same thing over and over again, without realising there are new features and additions. Misdelivery of email is a massive one – I would say the majority of businesses don’t have anything in place for it.
“Ask ‘where are the risk areas for your business?’ and understand those more, and then make sure to put those protection layers in place to help with things like ransomware attacks and other elements.”