Security Seals As Tamper Evident

Security Seals are used to provide some level of security but mainly as tamper evident mechanisms to help detect theft, accidental or deliberate contamination, or proof of the intrusion. They are an inexpensive method of providing evidence that the contents of a container have not been tampered with from the time it was sealed until it arrived at its destination. For example, security seals can be used to seal cargo on shipping vessels or to secure chemical drums, truck trailers, utility meters, and duty-free trolleys at airports.

The effectiveness of security seals relies strongly on the proper protocols being followed which involve official and unofficial procedures for training, storage, seal procurement, installation, record keeping, inspection, interpreting findings, reporting, removal, and disposal. With proper protocols in place, a modest seal can give excellent security while a sophisticated, high-security seal poorly used and naively trusted can be worse than useless.


There are two main groups of security seals: single-use and reusable. The production technology and materials used are key to the level of security they provide.

– Single-use seals are mainly made of plastic or metal while reusable seals are typically mechanical or electronic seals.

– Reusable seals are generally used by the transportation industry to seal the back of trucks, shipping containers, or trailers. For example, a reusable seal can be attached to a rear loading door with an extension cable running through fixed points. When fitted it generates a unique code that is logged. When the door is opened the number is changed, providing evidence that the contents have not been interfered with.

– High-Security seals are typically made from metal or metal cables with the intention of delaying an intrusion. They are usually designed according to  ISO security seal standards and world customs requirements.

– Customs-accepted seals are accepted by the customs departments of different countries as a secure seal on a container. They are typically used by businesses that transport high-value goods. They are manufactured from high-quality materials and have gone through rigorous testing.

– Cable seals are more versatile with variable lengths of locking mechanisms generally used to seal railway cars and trucks that transport valuable goods.

Key Points to Consider When Using Security Seals

  1. A security seal is only effective if it cannot be removed without destroying the capacity to use it again.
  2. Security seals are capable of providing a degree of security that cannot be provided by standard locks that can be opened and relocked without any evidence that tampering had occurred.
  3. Security seals, in line with all other security hardware, require specific security protocols to be followed in order to be effective.
  4. Effective security administration involves the applying, issuing, recording, and removal of security seals with written procedures in place where possible.
  5. Serially numbered security seals are ideal as a unique number provides each seal with a recordable identity that deters unauthorized tampering. The consignee is able to check the serial number before opening the container to make sure that no unauthorized entry has occurred en route.

Security seals can be customized to include barcodes and name brands or can be color-coded for superior traceability.

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