How blockchain is driving compliance in the pharma supply chain

To explore some of the technology behind the Veratrak Platform, we speak to Roland Becsi, Head of Engineering at Veratrak.


Q: What is your role at Veratrak?

A: As the Head of Engineering I oversee the technical design, development and implementation of our software products while exploring innovative and valuable technologies.

Q: What do you like about working at Veratrak/ about your role at Veratrak?

A: As our products grow and new product ideas emerge we constantly think about user experience, security and performance challenges and how solutions come together like pieces in a puzzle.

Q: What is blockchain, and what are the benefits for the pharma supply chain?

A: To understand blockchain, first, let’s take a look at the history of the internet: the World Wide Web first debuted on computers in the 1990s, at a time when visiting the internet mostly consisted of reading text and looking at static images.

Next came the internet as we know it today, which like the internet before it, is subject to a centralised system where a large portion of online activity happens on closed platforms run by businesses which governments regulate, where users give up their data to major corporations to use their services, which have control of what information gets shared and who will be able to access it. 
In other words, this gives power to corporations over you. All of your most personal information is stored with big companies (eg: social media) who profit from your data.

The latest internet iteration is a decentralised online network built and established through the blockchain, where users can engage and interact without exchanging their data for access. Complete transparency and trust are built into the services, with all data and updates stored on the blockchain where information can be seamlessly updated and validated on a real-time basis. 

When it is integrated within the pharma supply chain, it offers many benefits such as traceability and high operational efficiency of supply chain management via secure monitoring, auditing and mapping.

Q: How can blockchain technology drive efficiency and compliance in pharma?

A: Blockchain technology builds trust and security by creating independent ‘blocks’ on a ‘chain’ that are used to store data securely via a peer-to-peer network. Each block contains identifiers from the blocks that precede it, making the chain difficult to modify or hack. For each event recorded in Veratrak’s Audit Log, Veratrak generates a hash of this event to create a unique fingerprint. It then adds this fingerprint, containing no business-sensitive information, to a blockchain ledger.

This solution anchored on blockchain won Veratrak the 2018 Oxford University Innovation of the Year Award. It ensures that Audit Log events are:

  • Tamper-proof

  • Containing authentic events

  • Immutable and cannot be destroyed

Veratrak Clients can use the matching tool within the Audit Log to validate the authenticity of these events and confirm storage on the blockchain.

As a summary, Veratrak gives customers a simple and secure way to share, review, and agree on documentation with their supply chain partners. The platform securely stores files for future reference and retains a verifiable audit trail of files and data, comments and actions on the platform.

As well as setting up and completing workflows, customers can access data on business processes to improve efficiency. Inviting supply chain partners to the platform is simple and straightforward, and each customer is granted a generous number of guest licenses. 

Q: Can you elaborate on the data storage and infrastructure?

A: Veratrak uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) best-in-class infrastructure, and has been built alongside AWS architects. This cloud-hosting setup enables the Veratrak team to deploy new features to our customers in a streamlined, secure manner, and enables us to scale our infrastructure as we grow. Veratrak operates in accordance with the strictest industry regulations including GAMP5 guidelines, EU GMP Annex 11, GxP Data Integrity, and FDA 21 CFR Part 11 to enable our customers to achieve compliance and security.

Q: Finally, can you share your thoughts on the top 2 cybersecurity trends to watch out for in 2023?

A: I think having a strong routine “cyber hygiene” procedure in place for your computers and software is crucial to maintain your documents and data securely online. Hackers, identity thieves, advanced viruses, and intelligent malware are all part of the cyber threat landscape. With remote working, systems protected by weak passwords are now being accessed from unprotected home networks, and workers are logging in on personal devices that have a much higher chance of being lost or stolen.

1. Watch out for social engineering: if you're looking for a way to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to cybersecurity, you can't afford to ignore the threat of social engineering.

Social engineering attacks are a popular way for cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive information, and are more than just phishing emails or phone calls. They include email impersonation, spear phishing, and ransomware attacks.

They've been around since the dawn of computers, but they've evolved along with technology—and they're only going to get more sophisticated as time goes on. This makes these attacks all the more dangerous, as it’s a lot easier to trick a human than it is to breach a security system. 

2. Beware Third-party breaches: you may have heard of a hacker who hacks into your computer. But what if that hacker was able to hack into your neighbour's computer, and your neighbour had access to your company's network?

Cybercriminals can get around security systems by hacking less-protected networks belonging to third parties that have privileged access to the hacker’s primary target. This is called privilege escalation, and it allows hackers to use the same access privileges as their target in order to gain access to confidential information. 

Addressing these risks requires a comprehensive approach that includes education and awareness campaigns as well as improved security practices.

It's important to make sure that everyone has an understanding of cybersecurity basics so they know what to look out for, whether they're at work or working from home.

At Veratrak, our platform features all the functionality required to operate with confidence across the life sciences supply chain. Organisations using our Hub platform form a single source of truth for their technology ecosystem, and ensure secure data exchanges through tamper-proof encryption technology.

Anchored in Blockchain technology, Veratrak drives digital transformation to create a safer, more secure future for the pharma industry’s critical supply chains. Contact us to find out more.