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Digitally securing the supply chain

The pressure on businesses to digitally transform is at an all-time high. Companies are increasingly investing in third party solutions to provide various components and systems. While these critical elements bring a competitive edge, they also lead to an extended network of people interacting with an organisation’s data, writes Simon Wood, CEO, Ubisecure, a digital identity management software firm.

This extended involvement has caused cyber attackers to alter their approach, with cyber criminals now stretching beyond their traditional methods of attack to reach an organisation through their third parties. These susceptible access points are increasingly becoming the most popular way to crack a company’s defences, with the number of third party data breaches rising by 50 per cent in the last year. It’s therefore essential, but often not easy, for companies to establish fundamental trust with their suppliers and who exactly is accessing system areas.

Electronic delegation of access rights could be the missing step in the process of securing and managing the supply chain. By digitising delegation, enterprises can ensure accountability and trust, while also having the capability to support complex networks of access rights.

Moving delegation online

Delegation has become intrinsic in today’s society – in our private lives and in business. With the power of a signature we are able to delegate roles and rights between people, for example by delegating legal matters to lawyers or financial matters to accountants. In the non-digital world, the physical delegation process can often be inefficient, inconvenient, non-scalable and expensive, with in-person visits and notarisation often needed.

A transition towards digital delegation comes with numerous advantages – enterprises are able to decentralise and therefore avoid the issues surrounding physical delegation. Electronic delegation processes are scalable, quicker and cost-efficient, as well as being much more secure, making them increasingly beneficial for everyone involved. Through online delegation, enterprises can alleviate workers who are inundated with admin-heavy tasks, which both simplifies the process, lowers the cost and allows them to focus their time elsewhere. However, despite these inarguable benefits, there is still only a small percentage of organisations implementing digital delegation and limited technology providers succeeding in delivering it.

Managing the digital world

Traditionally, users have been able to employ Identity & Access Management (IAM) solutions to manage their roles and rights relating to protected resources, such as data, documents and systems. These solutions, in theory, all allow users to create and manage other users, by offering various levels of delegated administration. Digital delegation has become the answer for organisations having to fulfil daily requirements, such as the need to manage the supply chain. However, these delegation solutions must be able to handle various complex combinations in order to be effective. For instance, best practice would allow individuals to delegate to both other individuals and to organisations, as well as allowing delegation from organisations to other organisations.

Cross-sector delegation

Digital delegation is already being used in many ways in many different industries – and these current methods are equally applicable to supply chain security. A key example of this process in practice is within the Finnish tax submissions platforms. Through the platform, both business leaders and members of the public are able to delegate the various roles required for government tax submissions. The process aligns with implemented hierarchies to delegate tasks in accordance to position and responsibilities. Tasks can easily move from CEOs to CFOs, before being further delegated to the relevant third parties and their employees. In sectors with endless third party involvement, delegation can manage access within the supply chain. For example, in the energy industry, electronic delegation is able to control access rights to energy contracts and details – from tenants handling their energy supply, to landlords delegating access to the energy provider itself. Through delegation, energy details can be managed in line with tenancy structures and hierarchical ownership and management rights can be further delegated to landlords, and from landlords to tenants.

Delegating the future

The increasing necessity of innovation within enterprises is notably advancing the creation and implementation of new and existing electronic delegation services. The electronic model “Right to Represent” is a prime example of this. The system essentially permits the assertion and delegation of rights between identities, such as the verification of signatory rights between organisations and individuals, all done through an online platform. As enterprises aim for security around their third party supply chain, both digital delegation and services based on delegation systems will become all the more present within organisations. When considering the cost-efficiency, increased security and scalability of these electronic systems, it’s easy to understand why.


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