How Security Seals Keep The World's Cargo Moving Safely

Hinge Lock Seal / Plastic Padlock

You may not know it, but you’ve probably seen security seals before. You might have even used them without realizing it!

Security seals are tamper evident mechanisms applied to containers, packages, or shipments to show evidence that the product has or has not been compromised. They can be used in many situations – delivering valuable goods, protecting against counterfeiting, and preventing trade in stolen goods – and come in various shapes and sizes for different purposes.

Security seals are used in various industries, including shipping, military, law enforcement, and healthcare.

While it may seem like a small thing, this simple product has helped ensure that billions of pounds worth of goods are shipped around the world safely every year!

What Is A Security Seal?

Security seals are devices used to provide evidence of tampering or pilferage.

These seals are typically made out of aluminum, steel, plastic, or nylon and are designed to be tamper-resistant.

Since they’re surface applied, they can be used quickly and flexibly as needed by temporarily attaching them to the product in question until authorities can adequately inspect it at a later time.

Security seals consist of three essential elements: the body, a locking mechanism, and a seal number (bar coded if needed) on the back.

The Body: The part of the security seal that’s visible on the outside. Manufacturers can make it out of a variety of different colors and materials, including aluminum, steel, plastic, and nylon.

The Locking Mechanism: The part that prevents access to the contents inside. These can only be attached once and must be broken to have access to the product.

The Seal Number: A number, like a serial number, can be used to identify the seal and keep track of it. These numbers typically serve no other purpose than letting you know where the security seal came from or who applied it, though in some cases, they’re used for tracking purposes as well.

AMAX Anchor Seal plastic security seal

Security Seal Features

Security seals utilize three main features that manufacturers include to ensure that their products offer premium protection:

1. Resistance to Tampering

First and foremost, security seals are designed to resist tampering. While no seals are completely tamper-proof, high-quality security seals should be built to withstand a few common types of tampering. When a container or package is opened without authorization, a security seal will either be missing or destroyed, providing evidence that the cargo has been infiltrated. This way, the cargo owners can make sure they can act appropriately if damage or theft occurs.

2. Provide Proof of Authenticity

The second feature that security seals provide cargo owners is proof of authenticity.

Seals with specific numbers are applied in one location and the seal number is sent to the destination for verification. Cargo that has been falsified or produced illegally will not have matching seal numbers.

If this information is tampered with, it may be impossible to prove where the cargo has come from. These seals are also used to prevent trade in stolen goods by ensuring that only legally owned items are transported across borders and through customs.

Hinge Lock Seal / Plastic Padlock

3. Inability to Rebuild or Reseal the Product

When security seals are removed or broken, they can no longer be used to seal the product. This ensures that any tampering is visible and cannot be easily covered up.

Choosing a Security Seal

There are two main types to consider when choosing a security seal: indicative seals and barrier seals.

Indicative Seals

Indicative seals are designed to offer security while offering tamper evidence easily. Most indicative seals are made from strap-style material and do not require a tool to break open. Indicative seals are not intended to offer the highest levels of protection but offer clear evidence of tampering.

Indicative seals are an excellent option for products at a lower risk of tampering or theft in their transportation. However, they will still offer a significant layer of protection and evidence should anything occur.

Barrier Seals

Barrier seals may be the best option for high-value products and those that need to be transported in high-risk areas where tampering could lead to severe problems. Barrier seals feature locking mechanisms that require you to have a tool to break the seal.

CTPAT / ISO 17712 compliant High Security Cable Seals

The strength of barrier seals comes from the combination of steel and cable used in their construction. This helps reduce tampering and makes it very difficult for an intruder to open a product that has been properly sealed with a barrier seal without leaving any evidence of tampering.

Barrier seals are best for products requiring a higher level of security than indicative seals, and need a tool to be broken.

Shop Security Seals with Alta Max

Despite the many uses of security seals, no seal is tamper-proof. If you suspect someone has interfered with your cargo, contact authorities immediately.

Alta Max is proud to be recognized as an industry leader in cable, bolt, and plastic tamper-evident seals.

We provide a wide range of security seals designed to meet the growing needs of various industries.

We provide cable seals ranging from 1.50mm to 5.0mm, from 12” to 84” in length, in a variety of colors. We provide many seals including: plastic truck seals, grip, beaded pull, and regular pull seals.


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