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Tamper Indicating Seals

Roger Johnston of Chemistry Division’s Vulnerability Assessment Team (VAT) authored an article in the November-December 2006 issue of American Scientist magazine. Johnston’s article looked at the historical evolution of seals to control unauthorized access and is subtitled, “From the earliest civilizations to the present, seals have provided evidence of unauthorized access.”

Johnston says that prehistoric evidence shows that people have always been concerned with protecting their belongings from tampering. Early intrusion detection may have been as simple as sweeping the ground in front of a living place to show signs of passage. Later, about 7,000 years ago, stone carvings were used to “seal” jars and writing tablets. Johnston's team has tested the efficacy of a wide variety of protection devices, up to and including the seals used on nuclear material. Their tests show that even the most expensive and complicated tags and seals are often easily defeated.

The online version of the American Scientist article is available at: http://www.americanscientist.org/AssetDetail/assetid/54068
More on the VAT is available at: http://pearl1.lanl.gov/seals/default.htm

Seals

Various types of modern seals.

November 2006

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