Dark web threatens valid COVID-19 vaccines, certificates

As efforts to get more people vaccinated against the Coronavirus Disease across the globe are underway, experts at Kaspersky, a cyber security and anti-virus provider, have alerted on the threat to real deal for COVID-19 vaccines and certificates.

In a recent finding, it was unclear how many COVID-19 vaccine sellers are distributing the real medicine, as the experts hinted of vaccine doses on the dark web.

They asserted that scammers and sellers on the black market had been eager to make a fortune off getting more people vaccinated around the world.

According to the research, the experts examined 15 different marketplaces on the Darknet, but could only find advertisements for three major COVID-19 vaccines, including Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Moderna.

The research further disclosed that there were also sellers advertising unverified ‘COVID-19’ vaccines.

“The majority of these underground sellers have made between 100 and 500 transactions, indicating that they had been completing sales, but what exactly Darknet users are purchasing remains unclear.

“With the information available to Kaspersky experts, it’s impossible to tell how many of the vaccine doses being advertised online are actual doses – many medical facilities have found themselves with left-over doses and how many advertisements are a scam,” the researchers revealed.

They warned that “even if you did receive something in the mail, most likely what you would receive would not be an effective, valid dose. More importantly, obtaining such doses is illegal.”

However, noting that the majority of real sellers came from France, Germany, United Kingdom and the United States of America and the price per dose ranged from $250 to $1,200, with an average cost of about $500, they stated, “Communications are made via encrypted messaging apps like Wickr and Telegram, while payments are requested in the form of cryptocurrency, primarily bitcoin.”

In a statement released in Lagos on Thursday, a security expert at Kaspersky, Dmitry Galov, said, “You can find just about anything on the Darknet, so it’s not surprising that sellers there would attempt to capitalise on the vaccination campaign. Over the past year, there have been a whole host of scams exploiting the COVID-19 topic, and many of them have been successful.

“Right now, not only are people selling vaccine doses, but they’re also selling vaccination records – pieces of paper that can help you travel freely. It’s important for users to be cautious of any ‘deal’ related to the pandemic, and, of course, it’s never a good idea to buy a vaccine off the Darknet.”

To stay safe from scammers, the Kaspersky experts recommended users to never buy products, including vaccine doses, on the Darknet.

“If you see an advertisement for something related to COVID-19, look carefully at the URLs of the sites that you visit. If just one letter looks out of place, or if the usual .com has been replaced with .com.tk or something along those lines, your gut should tell you it’s phishing. Never enter personal information on such a site.

“Pay attention to grammar and layout on both the sites you visit and the e-mails you receive. If something smells phishy, it probably is,” the researchers further urged.

Ehime Alex
Ehime Alex
Ehime Alex reports the Capital Market, Energy, and ICT. He is a skilled webmaster and digital media enthusiast.

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