Disclaimer: The opinions of the columnists are their own and not necessarily those of their employer.
C. Warren Axelrod

Tampering and Security

I have maintained all along that we don’t even know about most of the cyber attacks and quite a few physical attacks that have occurred wither because we haven’t detected them or because the criminals are expert enough to cover their tracks.

I recently received a package sealed with tape that announced “CAUTION: Tamper Proof—Do NOT Accept if Seal is Broken.” Having spent a fair amount of time with DLP (Data Leak Prevention), I became much more aware of the differences among “tamper evident,” “tamper resistant” and “tamper proof.” The tape on my package was, at best, tamper evident. It was regular transparent tape on which words were printed. It could be removed and replaced with similar tape, and no one would be any the wiser. However, I can see someone using the word “proof” instead of “evident,” since cutting the tape might “prove” that tampering has taken place. The semantics are confusing here.

There are other types of tape that are not as easily replaced, such as those little silver stickers, some with holograms printed on them, which cover the screw heads or bridge the gap between a device case and doors of some electronic devices—or the tamper-evident seals on pharmaceutical products and some food packaging, which are destroyed and not readily replaced when the bottle or box is opened. However, in all such cases, anyone wishing to get at “the goods” can do so. You are not protecting the product itself, merely informing customers that someone has been there before you and may have done something bad with or to the product.

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