SECOTA (Security, Equivalent, Certification, Organization, Testing and Auditing) is a comparison test project. It is based on the principle that a comparison test shall be open and transparent. In this blog current updates of the SECOTA project are given to the market.

Importance of accreditation

Accredited European Certification For Safes – How To Inspect What You Expect  

October 2020 Security technology has always been part of a sensitive area and serves to protect tangible and virtual assets and persons. Through global trade and technical evolvement more and more security technologies produced by different manufacturers are being sold. Users of these technologies clearly need a reference point to provide assurance that a security product functions and provides the protection that is expected whether part of a system or a standalone device.  

With this is mind, the proper assessment of the attack resistance of safes is a complex task. This requires the deep knowledge of attack methods and the highly trained personnel that accredited testing bodies provide, in order to test these products to their full extent. Evaluations of test results are a separate matter, and this evaluation is made by independent European accredited certification bodies who issue certificates based on a strict and verifiably unbiased assessment of these test results. However, not all certificates issued for safes are issued by independent and accredited certification bodies and there are important differences between certificates issued by accredited certification bodies and those issued by unaccredited bodies or a manufacturer. 

Certification mark with reference to accreditation (figure only as an example)

For most security testing requirements "self-declarations" by manufacturers for safes are obviously insufficient. For this reason, security standards which in the past had integrated a manufacturer self-declaration like the VDMA 24992 were withdrawn long ago. The reason for this is simple. A manufacturer will likely be biased towards their own products. Third party assessment by a certification body will of course provide more assurance than "self-declaration" but it is also important to be assured that the certification body itself is independent and has the required competence and facilities to assess the security of a safe in the first place.

As the trust placed in certificates, inspections or tests obviously stands or falls with the competence of the body issuing the certificate, the European Parliament addressed this problem in 2008 when it approved regulation 765/2008, which reads as follows:  

(1) It is necessary to ensure that products benefiting from the free movement of goods within the Community fulfil requirements providing a high level of protection of public interests such as health and safety in general, health and safety at the workplace, protection of consumers, protection of the environment and security, while ensuring that the free movement of products is not restricted to any extent greater than that which is allowed under Community harmonisation legislation or any other relevant Community rules. Provision should, therefore, be made for rules on accreditation, market surveillance, controls of products from third countries and the CE marking. 

It is this regulation that led to the establishment of the system of accreditation bodies in Europe with the responsibility to examine the competence and impartiality of certifiers through in-depth yearly audits. This strict system provides a firm basis for users and insurers of certified safes to have total confidence in the European safe testing and certification regime. Only a certification body that is found to meet the strict requirements of the international certification standard ISO/IEC 17065 is accredited to certify safes, and then only for specific listed products. 
Without accreditation to ISO/IEC 17065 it is simply impossible to know if a body issuing a certificate for a safe is impartial or even competent.   Accredited certification protects the consumer and the insurer of safes from sub-standard units and other nasty surprises such as hazardous materials. As important, is the fact that in a legal sense an accredited certificate has standing as proof of standard for litigation purposes. A case in point is the fact that Governments from several countries are now requiring that safes for the storage of weapons must be shown to have such accredited European certification.   

Where it [the certification body] is found to be competent, the national accreditation body shall issue an accreditation certificate to that effect.
EU regulation 765/2008, 
Article 5(1)

Always ask for documented proof of accredited certification before buying a safe for home or business use.  

Interim Report on the SECOTA Project

December 2019 - „The first practical test series in international testing laboratories in the course of the SECOTA project has been completed“, reported Falko Adomat, Deputy Managing Director of the European Security Systems Association (ESSA), at the ESSA General Assembly 2019 in Frankfurt. This is the largest independent comparative test in accordance with EN 1143-1 to date, with each laboratory starting with the same requirements.

The complete press release is available as download under the following link.

SECOTA tests new disc grinder

October 2019 - In April 2019 the European safe standard EN 1143-1:2019 was published. The standard gives the option to additionally test with a new disc grinder. In case the product is tested with this tool, a “T2” is added to the resistance grade. 

The SECOTA project has already done first comparison tests with this new tool. When comparing the results from 5 different bodies the comparison showed that the current 125 mm disc cutter is at medium 3,1 times slower than the new “T2” disc cutter with 125 mm disc. This proves for the first time that the new “T2” option gives a security benefit for the user of the safe.

The test was done on a metal construction. The effect on other safe constructions may be different.

Third meeting of steering committee

September 2019 - On 5 September 2019 the SECOTA steering committee had their third meeting. 

After discussing the results of the SECOTA comparison test, where eight of the burglary tools for attacking safes were assessed, the participants from seven different countries decided to focus on the three most important tools before performing the next tests. It was decided to especially evaluate the data of the 125 mm disc grinder, the oxyacetylene torch and the drilling machine. 

The next SECOTA steering committee meeting will then specifically have these tools on the agenda.

SECOTA presentation in Haarlem

June 2019 - On 24 May 2019 the SECOTA secretary Falko Adomat presented the results of the first SECOTA comparison test at the eurosafe general assembly in Haarlem (Netherlands). 

The 30-minute presentation was well received and included the main testing results in an anonymised form. Tests which were shown during the speech included attacks with disc cutters, acetylene torches, drilling machines and thermal lances.

Eurosafe is the umbrella organisation of the national European secure storage unit associations and was founded in Paris in 1988.

Meeting of the SECOTA steering committee

May 2019 -  On 15 May 2019 the SECOTA steering committee met for their second meeting in Frankfurt. 15 participants from 7 countries discussed the results of the first comparison test. 

It was agreed that the figures shall give the results in percentage and RU, so that a better understanding of the overall results is possible. Furthermore, the laboratories shall receive their individual results to assess if they could have a weakness and where they should improve themselves in the future.

Results of first SECOTA tests have been clustered

May 2019 - From March to May 2019 six European bodies participated in the first SECOTA comparison test.   

The results have now been clustered in a twelve page report. As a next step the "SECOTA steering committee" will evaluate the data and discuss the results in their next meeting.

Launch of SECOTA Comparison Test

April 2019 - After extensive preparations, the comparison tests will now begin. In March and April 2019, test institutes from six countries will be using angle grinders, oxy acetylene torches and other typical burglar tools to test a total of 126 specimens produced specifically for the tests. Each laboratory will carry out 35 tests with various tools under the independent supervision of SECOTA. 

"The tests are designed in such a way that a certain basic knowledge of safe barrier materials and the handling of burglary tools is required," explains project manager Falko Adomat, who is one of the initiators of SECOTA as Deputy Managing Director of the European Security Systems Association (ESSA) e.V. Identical sets, each with 16 test specimens, had been produced in advance for the institutes. These cover the entire range of barrier materials, from simple sheets of metal to sandwich constructions and high-strength armouring.  

More information

SECOTA – Test specimens completed for first comparison test

February 2019 - A total of 126 specimens were produced for the SECOTA project. The test specimens range from simple sheets of metal to highstrength armour plates and sandwich structures. 

In March 2019, 16 specimens will be sent to each of the bodies that have agreed to cooperate. The first results of the comparative tests should be available in May 2019.

The picture shows the test specimens, which shall be attacked by one laboratory with several specified attack tools according to the standard.

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