Forged vaccination certificates, negative test results, and even coronavirus vaccine doses are being sold on the black market via the dark web, a report from BBC news said.
The vaccines being sold include AstraZeneca, Sputnik, Sinopharm, and Johnson & Johnson. They are priced anywhere between $500 to $750, while certificates sell for about $150 according to the BBC. More recently, the price of these vaccines on the darknet has doubled and some vendors have even quadrupled the price, asking for $1,000 per vaccine.
The Israeli cybersecurity firm Check Point has seen such deals on the darknet, a part of the internet which can only be accessed through certain software, codes, and permissions. The sales have been circulating for a few months and have seen a significant increase, coming from the US, Spain, Germany, France and Russia.
The number of advertisements for vaccines has risen by 400% since December, according to Check Point research. The company found that there were more than 340 advertisements from those offering to sell vaccinations.
One such deal the company found claimed: "We do negative COVID tests, for travelers abroad, for getting a job etc. Buy two negative tests and get the third for free!"
The head of products vulnerability research for Check Point, Oded Vanunu, warned, "It's imperative for people to understand that attempting to obtain a vaccine, a vaccination card or negative COVID-19 test result by unofficial means is extremely risky, as hackers are more interested in your money, information and identity for exploitation."
While sellers may claim that their vaccines and “products” are safe for use, buying from an unknown source is extremely dangerous and could be a scam. The cyber intelligence company emphasized that there is no way to confirm the authenticity of offers made on the darknet and that further doubt is cast on their authenticity because sellers are only accepting payment in bitcoin.
The company urged citizens not to waste their money on such sales and countries to begin using barcodes on their vaccine certificates to avoid such fraudulence.
Last year, Check Point founder and CEO Gil Shwed said he worried that the new reality created by the coronavirus pandemic will cause threats in the cybersecurity field to rise, and that countries need to protect themselves against the coming “cyber pandemic.”
“More services moved online; companies removed barriers. We allowed developers to work just from within the company physically, so we could keep our intellectual property… In one day, we had to change all of that and allow people to access from home," he said.
"This rapid change means hackers will find a way… The hackers can find a way to hack a personal computer of an employee and through them get into our crown jewels.”
Aaron Reich contributed to this report.