The cybersecurity company Check Point Research (CPR) warns of the growing number of offers on the darknet of false documents and articles related to the coronavirus pandemic. The number of sale ads of alleged vaccines against Covid-19 has increased by 300% in the last three months, and cybercrime has also extended its activity to false vaccination certificates and negative Covid-19 test results.

To obtain a false vaccination certificate, the user simply sends his data and payment and the "seller" returns the documents by e-mail. There are special promotions where, in less than 24 hours, buyers can purchase a negative Covid-19 test on the “take 3, pay 2” offer for $ 25.

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Vaccination certificates or negative tests are being required by many countries so that international travelers can cross their borders. Generally, documents are checked in the country of origin, and a passenger without a valid document is prevented from boarding.

CPR researchers contacted a supplier of fake vaccination certificates to obtain as many details as possible about delivery, price and level of authenticity. In answering the experts' questions, the advertiser assured that he had done this operation many times before, without any problem.

Darknet corresponds to a part of the Internet that is invisible to search engines, not indexed, in which illegal resources such as stolen credit card numbers, drugs, cyber weapons, malicious software and, more recently, coronavirus-related services are exchanged.

“Darknet is full of vaccine-related activity, selling all sorts of coronavirus-related certificates: tests, vaccination certificates and, of course, the alleged vaccines from any supplier,” explains Oded Vanunu, head of product vulnerability research. at Check Point.

“Cybercriminals try to capitalize on the interest of both the public who craves the vaccine and those who seek to avoid it. It is imperative that people understand that entering into any of these transactions is extremely risky because cybercriminals essentially want to extract personal information. I also strongly recommend to all people not to share vaccination certificates on social networks, as these may very well reach Darknet in some way ”, warns Vanunu.

Vaccine ads from Pfizer and Moderna on Darknet
Some of the vaccine ads on Darknet. Image: Kaspersky / Reproduction

Vaccine menu for sale

In addition, ads commercializing alleged coronavirus vaccines have increased 300% since January, with more than 1.200 ads registered by the CPR team. Criminals offer Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Sputnik and SinoPharm immunizers for between $ 500 and $ 600 a dose.

Obviously, shopping on a "black market" is a risky business. In addition to the uncertainty about whether the dose is real or not, the buyer has no guarantee that he will receive the advertised product. To support sales, comments were also found from alleged buyers praising the delivery and packaging of the vaccines.

It is also necessary to note other important points, such as the fact that the solution sold may be harmless or “even something really dangerous”. In addition, doses of vaccine from Pfizer / BioNTech must be kept at -70º. The vaccine of Modern, in turn, needs to be stored at -20º of temperature. With that in mind, it is impossible to ensure that vaccines are transported optimally.