Hackers waste no time in finding novels methods to dupe people. They have now found a new money-making opportunity — Covid-19.
With governments and organisations beginning to insist on producing a Covid-negative report or vaccination certificate to allow people to travel and cross borders, hackers have begun to sell fake Covid-19 test results and vaccination certificates, says an intelligence report by cybersecurity company Check Point Research.
Cyber fraudsters have begun to advertise their ‘services’ on the darknet and hacking forums. Experts says that a fake ‘vaccine passport’ certificate is on sale for $250 and a fake negative Covid-19 test result is sold at $25.
People can pick and choose the vaccine brand (AstraZeneca, Sputnik ot Johnson & Johnson) while buying the certificate. All they need to do is send their details and the money, and the vendor emails back the forged documents.
Cyber security experts at Check Point Research said the prices of these counterfeit documents have gone up as the restrictions on people’s movements have increased. The fraudsters are cashing in on the slow pace of the vaccine roll-out, too. “There will always be people who don’t want to wait for their official vaccination, or for an official negative test result — and shady people willing to service that demand,” said a Check Point researcher said.
“We do negative Covid tests, for travellers abroad, for getting a job, etc. Everything is done within 24 hours,” proclaims an advertisement in the darknet.
Interestingly, the ‘sellers’caution their potential buyers not to use the documents to commit a crime, hurt people, or deceive or mislead people or organisations.
What countries should do
In order to keep tabs on such fraudsters, countries should build a central repository with details of people getting tested and vaccinated. The certificates issued to recipients should be digitally signed, says Check Point Research .
“All data of tests and vaccination population should be digitally signed with encrypted keys airports, border keepers and any official enforcement agent should be able to scan a QR code or a bar code,” said the intelligence report. “Going forward, countries should be able to share the digitally signed data to enable certificate holders to safely roam and cross borders.”