Argonne National Laboratory Nuclear Engineering Division

Think, explore, discover, innovate
U.S. Department of Energy

Vulnerability Assessment Team (VAT)

Seals: Common Myths about Tamper Indicating Seals

Network: Linkedin Roger Johnston on LinkedIn

The following statements are NOT true. Contact the VAT if you don't know why.


Using low-tech techniques (a mirror and a sword) Perseus defeated the supposedly invulnerable Medusa. If Medusa had done a proper vulnerability assessment, she might not have lost her head.

  1. There is such thing as a "tamper-proof" seal. 
  2. Only experts can easily defeat a seal.
  3. Since all seals can be defeated, seals have no value in providing security.
  4. A vulnerability assessment of an effective seal or tamper detection program should find no problems.
  5. The best seals can withstand thousands of pounds of force.
  6. High-tech seals are harder to defeat than low-tech seals.
  7. High-tech seals and/or seals that have electronic readers don't require manual inspection.
  8. The more expensive a seal, the better security it provides.
  9. The only important issues in choosing a seal are its unit cost and whether it has been "certified" or "tested."
  10. A good seal requires little effort or training to use. 
  11. A seal that is good for one application is good for another. 
  12. If a seal is not obviously missing, damaged, or smashed open, that means it has not been tampered with.

Last Modified: Mon, September 30, 2013 8:12 PM



VAT Papers

For a selection of VAT papers available upon request, see Publications.

For copies of the VAT papers and presentations on a wide variety of physical security issues (tags, seals, product counterfeiting, vulnerability assessments, RFIDs, GPS, nuclear safeguards), contact Roger Johnston at

Inquiries about the Journal of Physical Security should be addressed to:

Recently added to
the Security Maxims…

Physical Security Maxims

Devil’s Dictionary of Security Terms

For more information:

Vulnerability Assessment Section
Sect. Manager: Roger G. Johnston, Ph.D., CPP
Fax: +1 630-252-7323

Argonne Experts Argonne Experts: Roger Johnston
Roger Johnston on LinkedIn



U.S. Department of Energy | UChicago Argonne LLC
Privacy & Security Notice | Contact Us | Site Map | Search   go to top