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Safcon Tamper Evident Security Seals For Hotels
By Joy Roy Choudhury /Kolkata

In the changed scenario security has become a cause for concern for the hotels, especially when it concerns luggage of the guests. Kolkata-based Safcon Security Seal Has launched a novel solution in the form of mini-tite security seals. The product is designed to ensure that once sealed it cannot be opened thereafter, not unless it is broken. The unique design gives an exceptionally high level of security, with a low insertion force.

The seal can be easily fixed by any person. It uses a specially developed, patented, sealing mechanism and is designed to indicate any tampering attempts. Mini-tite seals offer higher security and easier sealing procedure without the use of tools.

Supplied with high relief/printed corporate logo and hot stamped and non-repeat serial numbers it provides uniqueness to the seal which cannot be substituted, claim the officials of the company. An easy tear-off facility is incorporated to easily remove the seals. Available in various colors facilitates using the product for different purposes and departments.

Handing over of the seal number makes guests, leaving back their luggage in the hotel, rest assured of the safety of their luggage. Besides, it can also be used as an evidence by the hotel to assure the guests that his/her luggage has not been tampered at all, added the official.

Another important use of the product in the hotel is to secure their mini-bars provided in the rooms. It can be secured by using the seal on it. When broken, it will indicate that a check of the contents needs to be done. This can drastically cut down the amount of time spent checking the contents besides reducing pilferage.

In addition to securing luggage and mini-bar, it can be used to secure stores for meat, linen, cutlery and alcohol as well as VIP guestrooms, prohibited areas, cash boxes etc. Other applications include securing guest lockers, special emergency kits and other areas where safety, security and control of access is indispensable.

Link : http://www.expresshotelierandcaterer.com/20011105/equip2.htm



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PROTECTING ELECTRIC METER TO STOP POWER THEFT
-Rajesh Kumar Banka

Loss of revenue due to energy theft each year is a subject of serious debate. The International Utilities Revenue Protection Assn (IURPA), a group of some 2000 representatives of over 400 utility companies worldwide, estimate energy theft in some countries is staggeringly high. For example 10-20% in Mexico, 10-16% in South America and 20-40% in India.

Some customers tamper with their service connections or meters to avoid paying their fair share. Covering these losses drives up everyone's cost of service.

But the problem does more than just increase the cost of electricity, tampering with an electric meter is dangerous. Attempts to bypass or tamper with electric meters can result in serious injury, shock, electrocution, fire, explosion or death. It poses serious danger to the thief, to people living nearby and to the utility employees. Meter tampering also constitutes a theft offence, which could result in criminal sanctions, including fines and/or imprisonment.

Revenue protection and loss prevention are hot topics now-a-days in the utility industry. For the first time the Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, went into such details as the need for 100% metering, commercialisation of distribution, elimination of power theft and energy audit. At a recent meeting of chief ministers, several actions were identified, including the implementation of an effective management information system and elimination of power thefts in the next two years.

Full metering and preventing energy theft are the most essential elements of any process of reforms to be implemented.

"Put revenue protection on the front burner so you're not forgotten" said Mr. Michael J Szilvagyi, Chairperson of IURPA. "It's important to be sure your revenue protection program continues to be solid." Mr. Szilvagyi believes a healthy revenue protection program is vital to any utility's bottom line. "For utilities to be competitive, they must use all their resources to effectively bill and collect revenue. You cannot be competitive if you're losing too much to theft, fraud and uncollectibles. Since utilities can no longer rely on rate increases to offset losses, revenue protection becomes even more critical. Revenue recovery adds to shareholder value and the safety of the company's energy delivery system. It's like any other business, if you let dollars walk out the door, you're not going to be competitive." he said.

With the prevailing trend of theft of electrical energy going on unabated in the disguise of system loss, it will only be natural that increased generation of electricity will be corresponded to by a pro-rata incumbent in theft of electricity. Even it may not remain out of possibility that pro-rata quantum of electricity which is going to be added to the national grid may also be swallowed up by way of theft, as the experience of the past few years leads us to the painful fact that on the issue of theft of electricity, we are very much within a black hole.

Power Line Research estimates T&D losses across the country are as much as 30 to 40 percent. The Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB) study provides evidence that most of these so-called T&D losses are plain and simple theft. Powerline also estimate that at least one-half and perhaps as much as two-thirds of T&D losses can be attributed to theft. The SEBs are thus losing at least 70 billion units and perhaps as much as 100 billion units due to electric theft. At current tariff this translates into a revenue loss of Rs.110 to Rs.160 billions. Even if half of the theft can be checked and prevented by an improved tamper evident meter sealing system and dedicated intelligence, most of the SEBs would be in profit.

According to a report, the trouble is that the most SEBs are so cash-strapped, they simply do not have the money to invest in better meters. They lose money because of meter that are easy to tamper with. But they cannot install tamper-proof meters as they do not have the money.

But the harsh fact is that lot of emphasis is given in selection of modern technology meters but no adequate attention has been paid on the tamper protecting security devices as yet. A mere piece of recycled plastic device named as plastic seals are employed as security seal which are useless whereas advanced range of tamper evident and barrier seals are available to protect the meters from being tamper. Even after replacement by third generation latest technology meter there will be need for reliable and advanced technology tamper evident seals and trained inspection as well as intelligence system. With a fraction of paise one and appropriate intelligence system in place, the problem of energy theft can be reduced drastically, smoothly and easily even with traditional and conventional meters.

What's the pay-off for paying attention to the little stuff? So much energy theft could be prevented by understanding seal basics and organizational objectives, choosing the right seal for its application, optimising the seal's use, adequately protecting the seal and seal data, providing effective training and support for meter seal inspectors, and honestly evaluating vulnerabilities. Just follow the procedures and you'll increase your revenue collections substantially."

SEAL BASICS

Tamper-indicating seals are often used to help detect theft and diversion, as well as meter tampering. Unlike locks, seals are not meant to physically impede unauthorized access or entry. Instead, they are meant to record that tampering took place.

The good news about seals is that if used correctly, they can be very effective at detecting tampering. The bad news is that using them correctly can take a lot of work. You can’t mindlessly slap seals on a meter and expect them to magically solve all your theft and tampering problems.

UNDERSTANDING GOALS

Many seal users are remarkably vague about what they are trying to accomplish. You can’t use seals effectively in a vacuum. You must undertake a fair amount of introspection. Many seal users--in and outside the utility industry--are not much clear on exactly what their tamper detection program is all about. It is not possible to optimize your chances for tamper detection without a thorough understanding of the specific goals of your security program, your likely adversaries, the personnel and resources you are willing to devote to the task, the consequences of a security failure, and what you will do when you find evidence of tampering. These issues need to be reviewed on a regular basis.

UNDERSTANDING GOALS

Many seal users are remarkably vague about what they are trying to accomplish. You can’t use seals effectively in a vacuum. You must undertake a fair amount of introspection. Many seal users--in and outside the utility industry--are not much clear on exactly what their tamper detection program is all about. It is not possible to optimize your chances for tamper detection without a thorough understanding of the specific goals of your security program, your likely adversaries, the personnel and resources you are willing to devote to the task, the consequences of a security failure, and what you will do when you find evidence of tampering. These issues need to be reviewed on a regular basis.

SEAL SELECTION

Choosing an appropriate seal is complicated. In my experience, most seal users (commercial or government) choose seals based on the following criteria, in order of decreasing priority:

  • Unit cost
  • Familiarity/tradition
  • Environmental durability
  • Ease of use
  • Gossip-a colleague says something nice about the seal, or something bad about a competing seal.

Attributes such as vulnerability to attack, and tamper-detection reliability often don’t even make the list! This is probably because they are much harder to evaluate

After needs are fully analyzed, security managers should choose a seal that is appropriate for the application and desired level of security. In extreme (but all too common) cases, seal users become so obsessed with the unit cost of a seal, that they ignore everything else. Costs associated with additional hardware, seal training, paperwork, installation, inspection, and removal can be far more important than the seal purchase price. Not to mention the costs of undetected theft!

It is important to choose tamper-indicating products carefully. To be effective, all seals must have a tag-like "fingerprint," or unique identifier, such as a serial number and coding. Otherwise, an adversary can simply cut off the seal and replace it with an unused one.

SEAL SELECTION

Many seal users are careful to safeguard their seals prior to use but careless about disposing of used seals and seal parts. This sloppiness can be exploited by an adversary intent on learning about an organization's seal program, getting sample seals and components to practice defeat techniques, and counterfeiting seals, seal parts, serial numbers, or imprinted/stamped logos.

Once a seal has completed its function, it should be protected or thoroughly destroyed. Punching a hole in the seal or cutting it in half is not sufficient. In practical, the security manager should consider storing used seals for possible future forensic analysis when new attacks or problems are discovered.

INSPECTION

The single and most critical issue associated with seal security is the inspection process. Some seal users and potential users don't understand that seals can only detect tampering if they are inspected. (Locks, in contrast, provide security even when ignored.) Seal inspection is can sometimes be done automatically by electronics or a computer system, but for most seals, the inspection is required to be performed manually

Even a simple, inexpensive seal can provide effective security if properly inspected. On the other hand, highly sophisticated, expensive seals may provide remarkably poor tamper protection if the inspection protocol is ineffective.

TRAINING

For optimal tamper detection, the VAT (Vulnerability Assessment Team, Los Alamos National Laboratory) believes, it is crucial to train seal inspectors in the most likely attack scenarios for each seal they use so that inspectors should specifically look for signs of those attacks. For example, many seals can be opened and resealed to look like they did before being compromised. Unless inspectors have seen actual examples of seals that have been reapplied after attack, they can easily miss the subtle signs of cosmetic alteration. Such signs include discoloration, scratches, and gloss differences.

Inspectors, as well as all other security personnel, should always be treated with consideration and respect. Having disgruntled security personnel is a classic way that security programs fail. To the extent practical, seal inspectors should be engaged intellectually and emotionally in the task of catching the bad guys. Contests and prizes might be offered for finding compromised seals in actual use or during training exercises.

VULNERABILITY

All security programs and security seals should undergo periodic vulnerability assessments. Ideally, these will be conducted by independent outside evaluators who are experienced in finding problems and suggesting solutions. If the cost or security concerns prevent the use of outside evaluators, alternatives are available. Security managers can draft evaluators from within their own organization. Ideally, these should include clever, hands-on people with no direct involvement in the security program and thus no preconceived notions about security issues. It is remarkable how often non-experts can spot problems that have eluded security personnel caught up in the day-to-day details of the job. This kind of activity also pays benefits by improving security awareness throughout the organization.

SEAL DESIGNS

One typical problem is lack of a serial number on the seal. It is important to place a serial number as it makes it more difficult for an adversary to replace the seal or its components with parts from another seal made by the same manufacturer. When serial numbers or customized logos are embossed or stamped onto a seal, the process should be done deeply. For many seals, the embossing or stamping is so shallow that it can easily be buffed off and replaced.

Sealing Systems and Procedures for Utility companies

INTRODUCTION

Seals are tamper-indicating devices used to detect and report unauthorized access. They provide deterrent against, an indication of, tampering, pilferage and unauthorised access. Once locked in position, seals cannot be removed except by destructive means and broken seals cannot be re-assembled or re-used. Unlike intrusion or burglar alarms, seals report unauthorized entry after the fact. They must be inspected to determine if unauthorized access has taken place. A seal does not need to physically resist access. The purpose of a seal is to reveal evidence of tampering. Customised Seals with serial numbering and company logo/name must be used to enhance security level.

An efficient security system not only requires well trained and trustworthy staff but also a highly reliable seal, manufactured by companies who are at the forefront in the fight against meter tampering and who understand the continually evolving and ever more ingenious methods used by thieves to steal energy. This calls for continuous cooperation and partnership between the utility companies and the manufacturers of security seals in order to achieve the desired result. 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 reliable seal can provide excellent security.

Our several years of experience in security seal business has led us to formulate some generic suggestions for optimizing the security and reliability of security seals. The following report is designed to educate a seal user in developing the correct systems and procedures in order to stop pilferage and theft of electricity.

ORDERING & STORAGE

A. Ordering

  • Only a small number of personnel within the utility should be authorised to order, store, checkout, and dispose of protective security seals
  • All seal orders should originate from the head office or a pre-determined ordering location.
  • The seal manufacturers should be instructed to ship the seals to a specific person's attention of either the head office or another designated location.
  • In addition to consecutive numbering, the company name or initials should be embossed onto ®each seal to make it absolutely unique.
  • Each Division should be coded by number and/or colour.
  • Being low value item, in many Government owned utilities tamper evident security seals are often regarded as Class “C” item but in view of its sensitive application the security seal must be treated as Special “A” class item.
  • Security seals must be procured from professional manufacturers of security seals who are at forefront in the fight against meter tampering and who understand the continually evolving and ever more ingenious methods used by thieves to steal energy.
  • Tell seal manufacturers and vendors that you are interested in reliable security seal, not just cost. (And mean it!)
  • Many seal manufacturers claim to protect seal logos and serial numbers from unauthorized purchasers. Test this yourself covertly. It’s not always true.

B. Storage

  • All seals and security devices should be kept in a controlled area in order to prevent unauthorised people from obtaining them for illegal use.

OUTBOUND RECORDING

  • Maintain one logbook for outbound seal recording and a separate log book for inbound seal recording.
  • Use hardcover books, do not use loose-leaf books.
  • The Outbound Log should contain the following information:
  • 1. The date and time the seal is applied.
  • 2. The colour and serial number of the seal.
  • 3. The Electric Consumer Number.
  • 4. The name of the person applying the seal.

APPLICATION

  • In order to maintain control over your sealing system, all seals must be properly applied and checked by an inspector or authorised person.
  • The following procedures for application should be used:
  • 1. Seal all the possible opening of the meter.
  • 2. Listen for the "click" when inserting the point of the seal into the locking body.
  • 3. In order to ensure a positive seal; pull the seal to check the proper locking.

TRAINING & MOTIVATION

  • Show your seal installers and inspectors, examples of attacked seals. Inspectors should be familiar with the most likely attack scenarios associated with the specific seal they are using, and look or test for them. Vague instructions, for example, "look for signs of tampering" are not satisfactory.
  • To the extent possible, seek to engage your seal installers and inspectors intellectually and emotionally in the task of “catching the bad guys”. Explain to them the importance of revenue protection and loss prevention. Explain the reasons for the various seal procedures. Hold contests and demonstrations of process.
  • Treat your seal installers and inspectors well. Having disgruntled security personnel is a classic way that security programs fail.
  • Give them a reason to pay attention. Generously and immediately reward seal installers and inspectors who find legitimate problems. Employees who save the utility from theft and loss of revenue are heroes and should be hailed as such in the company newsletter, or even the local newspaper.
  • Test your seal installers and inspectors (and your tamper detection program) on a frequent, unannounced basis by inserting damaged or tampered seals, or leaving a small decal or token, or tampering with the meter. Give them an immediate cash reward when the anomaly is reported.
  • Test whether your seal installers and inspectors can be bribed.
  • On a regular basis, security and loss prevention managers should spend a day with seal installers and inspectors, working alongside them, and listening to their comments. Managers’ perceptions of the task often differ from the harsh reality.

SEAL REMOVAL AND INBOUND RECORDING

  • In order to ensure the integrity of a seal before its removal, a physical check must be made.
  • The following procedures for seal removal are recommended:
  • 1. Only authorized personnel should remove seals.
  • 2. Enter in the seal log the name, serial number and all coding information appearing on the seal. Be sure to verify that it is the original seal.
  • 3. Compare the name, serial number and all coding information appearing on the seal with .the corresponding records.
  • 4. Prior to removing the seal, ensure that it has not been shortened or falsely sealed. Check ….for strange marks and tampering.
  • 5. Security seals that are inspected visually should be examined with an identical seal held right alongside. Humans do not accurately remember details of exact color, size, surface texture, gloss and patterns, but they are usually very proficient at visual side-by-side comparisons. Counterfeits can be more reliably spotted in this way.
  • 6. Pull and twist the seal to the left and right to ensure that the seal head has not been violated.
  • 7. Any discrepancy should be reported to the person(s) assigned to accept such statements, as well as recorded in the seal log.
  • 8. Any evidence of tampering should be reported to the vigilance department and investigation must be done immediately.
  • Bear in mind that tampering may involve bypassing the seal entirely. Seal installers and inspectors need to take a more holistic view than merely focusing on the seal.
  • Most seal users are careful about protecting their seals prior to use. After use, however, seals must be archived or thoroughly destroyed--not simply thrown in the trash. Cutting a seal or punching a hole in it is NOT sufficient. Discarded seals, even if partially destroyed, provide adversaries with a useful source of information, practice samples, and counterfeit parts.

SUPPLEMENTARY PROCEDURES

  • The following steps may be taken to reinforce the seal control program and discourage would-be energy thieves:
  • 1. Ensure that the fastening devices securing the meter cover and the locking screws cannot be removed without violating the seal.
  • 2. Use colour-coded seals to differentiate divisions/areas.
  • 3. Periodically change the seal colors to prevent usage of unauthorized old seals.

Security seals should be viewed as only one part of an overall security or verification program. In conclusion, it is advisable in the interest of the utility companies that a system should be immediately adopted for use of appropriate type and variety of the tamper evident security seals to substantially reduce energy theft & pilferage. In choosing a seal, it is important to bear in mind that unit cost is not always the most important economic factor associated with using a seal, nor is cost necessarily well correlated with the level of security a seal can provide. It is important to choose the right seal with the reliable seal manufacturers who understand the purpose of the seal and who can design and develop or modify security seal whenever required. Use of cheaper quality seal must be avoided.

Our experience and technical knowledge at SAFCON has led to the development of a unique new range of most reliable security seals which offer a precise solution to many security and protection related problems. By combining the benefits of special materials and security features, together with a clear understanding of a customer's requirements, Safcon Seals Private Limited technology is unsurpassed.

Here is an increasingly popular solution to one of the major Electricity theft problem providing both strength and ease of application. Metgrip Seal (Patent pending) - A new unique Tamper Evident Security Seal innovated by Safcon Seals Private Limited on international standard knockout punch to thieves of Electricity. The Metgrip Seal is a low cost combination of high strength engineering, see-through plastic body and non-corrosive non-magnetic stainless steel sealing wire available in five different colours and made absolutely unique with deep thermo engraved non-repeat serial number and further customised with customer’s initial thermo engraved that offers great strength and security, tool-less application and see-through tamper indicative locking mechanism.

The synergy of Safcon's three varieties of seals - (a) Metgrip Seals; (b) Anchor Seals and (c) Hasp-lok Seals have combined to design a system that affords ultra-high security at less than one fourth the cost of other similar traditional imported seals.

Acknowledgement: International Utility Revenue Protection Assn (IURPA), Los Alamos National Laboratory, And The Technology Theft Prevention Foundation, Power Line Research, DVB.