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Security seals are mechanisms used to seal shipping containers in a way that provides tamper evidence and some level of security. Such seals can help to detect theft or contamination, whether accidental or deliberate. Security seals are commonly used to secure truck trailers, vessel containers, chemical drums, airline duty-free trolleys and utility meters. Typically they are considered an inexpensive way of providing tamper evidence of intrusion into sensitive spaces.
Security seals are not designed to resolve all security problems:
The effectiveness of seals is strongly dependent on the proper protocols for using them. These protocols are the official and unofficial procedures used for seal procurement, storage, record keeping, installation, inspection, removal, disposal, reporting, interpreting findings, and training. With a good protocol, a modest seal can provide excellent security. On the other hand, a sophisticated seal used poorly may be worse than useless if naively trusted.
Security seals can be split into two main groups: single-use and reusable. Single use seals are typically made of plastic or metal, and the used material and production technology is the key to their security level. Reusable seals are usually electronic or mechanical rather than just made from plastic, and if purely plastic, only one part is reusable. Electronic and mechanical seals are generally used for the transportation industry, with seal fixed to the back of trucks, trailers and shipping containers. A reusable mechanical or electronic seal can be fitted to the rear or loading doors, extending a cable from itself through fixing points on the doors, and when sealed generating a unique number which is logged. When the door is next opened this number changes, so it provides tamper evidence for the load.