Thieves using 3D printers to disguise container breaches

23 May 2016

Supply chains could be put at increased risk of theft as thieves have learned to use 3D printers to replicate the security devices used to seal cargo containers, according to G4S.

G4S said duplicating the tags used to seal containers would help disguise cargo thefts and make it difficult to ascertain on what part of the journey containers had been broken into.

3D scanners allow thieves to make counterfeit copies of devices such as ISO 17712 high security cargo seals and locks or padlocks in as little as 10 minutes, allowing them to hide signs of tampering. Such scanners cost only a few hundred pounds.

ISO 17712 seals must be used on cargo freight in order for it to be accepted by customs around the world.

G4S cited the theft last year of a pharmaceuticals shipment from a Swiss freight forwarding and logistics company container as example of this type of crime.

Files posted online also allow anyone with a 3D printer to create keys and open any Transportation Security Administration approved locks.
“It is important that companies recognise that this new threat means they need to improve their supply chain security and lower their vulnerability to this emerging threat,” said G4S.

The company suggested placing GPS devices in cargo, installing motion-activated cameras within vehicles and alternating the colours of ISO 17712 seals in random order.

Employees should also be trained on procedures for controlling, affixing, removal, and recognition of true and counterfeit high security seals.

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