Sales of fake COVID vaccine cards increase on the dark web

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Even as the delta variant spreads, many people would rather pay money for a fake vaccine card than receive the vaccine for free, according to Check Point Research.

Image: Checkpoint search

Imagine these two scenarios. You can get a safe and effective vaccine for free that will protect you and everyone around you from the potentially fatal effects of COVID-19. Or you can spend the money to buy a fake vaccine certificate from an anonymous and potentially untrustworthy cybercriminal on the Dark Web. Seems like the right choice is obvious. But not for many people.

SEE: COVID vaccination policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Sales and advertisements of fake vaccination cards have reached new heights on the Dark Web, according to a report released Wednesday by cyber threat intelligence firm Check Point Research. Previously, fake certificates were mainly sold in the US, UK and Germany. But Check Point said it now sees them peddled around the world.

Most of the sales come from European countries such as Greece, the Netherlands, Italy, France and Switzerland. Cybercriminals are selling fake versions of the NHS COVID pass available in the UK and the EU COVID digital certificate available in the European Union. Ads for fake COVID certificates are also circulating in Pakistan and Indonesia.

As the supply of fake vaccination cards has increased, prices have fallen. In March 2021, Check Point discovered they were selling on the Dark Web for around $ 250. Since then, prices have hovered between $ 100 and $ 120.

Cybercriminals look for a specific need, desire or fear among people and try to take advantage of it, and the fake vaccination card is a prime example of this. While anti-vaccines and the like spew out propaganda and vaccine conspiracy theories, many people still resist the injection. However, proof of vaccination is increasingly becoming a requirement for many sites. New York City, for example, will require proof for indoor dining, theatrical performances, gym attendance and other events.

The need for proof of vaccination puts anti-vaccines in a lurch, creating a need for fake cards that they can use to sneak up on public events. The irony here is that those same people who don’t trust the government or scientists or even their own doctors willfully trust a cybercriminal on the Dark Web to sell them a seemingly legitimate but counterfeit vaccine card.

To allay the concerns of potential buyers, sellers claim that their certificates are “verified.” Ads attempt to simplify the process by telling buyers to “let us know what country you are from and what you want”. Offering to contact buyers by telegram, WhatsApp or email, the sellers promise that payment can be made through PayPal or cryptocurrency.

Advertisements for fake certificates also portray propaganda and the whole anti-vax movement as a kind of freedom struggle. Check Point spotted advertisements with catchphrases such as “We are here to save the world from this toxic vaccine”, “You don’t need to take the vaccine (vaccine) to get the certificate” and “Stay tuned”. vaccine gap and be safe as we continue this fight. “

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Image: Checkpoint search

As the delta variant spreads and more organizations and regions require proof of vaccination, sales of fake vaccination cards are expected to continue to increase. As such, Check Point offers some recommendations for individuals as well as for entire countries.

Avoid the Dark Web. The Dark Web acts as a black market for the Internet with criminals selling drugs, cybercrime tools, forged documents and more. Given the illicit and illegal nature of the Dark Web, Check Point advises people to avoid this type of underground market and its sellers.

Maintain a repository of people vaccinated. Countries should create and maintain a central repository of tests and people vaccinated to separate those who have been vaccinated from those who have obtained false vaccination cards. These repositories must be shared securely with authorized entities in the country.

Manage and secure vaccination certificates. All green passes and vaccination certificates must be managed and encrypted by authorized officials in each country. A QR code must be used to scan and authenticate each certificate.

Foster cooperation. Different countries should cooperate with each other to share immunization data and create a secure repository with encryption keys. People with legitimate vaccination certificates could then travel between countries, while those with fake cards would be detected.

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