UK-based security group G4S has issued advice to the global shipping industry on how to combat the increasing risk posed by criminals using 3D printing technology to steal goods shipments. 

In its advice, G4S urged the shipping industry to conduct a professional, third-party security assessment of any company used for shipment of goods.

G4S also advised to vary thorough background checks on shipping company employees, as well as evaluate methods to identify alternative routes and delivery times to avoid predictability.

The G4S advice also includes non-placement of company logos on company-owned cargo containers and use of GPS devices in random shipments.

"We want to ensure that people are alert to this emerging threat and watching for it."

In addition, vessels should install motion-activated, internet-based cameras inside random containers to capture footage of door being opened.

The company has also advised to replace colour of seals and periodically change them to make it harder to produce replicas.

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G4S corporate risk services senior vice-president Robert Dodge said: "We want to ensure that people are alert to this emerging threat and watching for it.

"Some supply chain security programme clients are further sharing the information with their business partners who might use high-security seals.

"US Customs and Border Protection has welcomed the fact we are sharing details of this threat with the business community and appreciated this information."

Nowadays, criminal gangs are understood to be using cheaper and more accessible 3D printing technology to steal goods shipments ranging from food and drink, to electronics and home and garden products.

Various law enforcement and industry professionals have also witnessed rise in such kind of criminal activities.

Due to the technological advancement in 3D printing, criminals can create counterfeit security devices, including cargo seals, security locks and keys, in as little as ten minutes.

After breaking into shipping containers and stealing the contents, thieves swap the seals with 3D printed replicas to cover their tracks.

The new G4S alerts can be beneficial to clients and employees who provide supply chain security related services such as guards at gates and loading docks.