Fake COVID Vaccine Certificates - the iProov solution

Fake COVID Vaccine Certificates and How to Protect Against Them

25 May 2021

Fake COVID status credentials are a global problem—and a problem we saw coming here at iProov. That’s why iProov and Mvine’s COVID Status Credential solution has been designed to combat the risk of people using fake COVID test and vaccine credentials.

Our solution uses cloud-based face verification. It’s secure, convenient, accessible to all and is respectful of user privacy.

How can face verification protect against fake COVID vaccine certificates?

How can airports, travel hubs, stadiums, venues and other organizations be certain that someone presenting a vaccine status or COVID test result is the genuine holder of that status? How can they be sure that they’re not looking at a borrowed or faked certificate?

Face verification associates a person’s face with their vaccine status or test result status. This means that the right people can be given access to venues or to travel so that safety is protected.

How does the iProov-Mvine solution work?

Most paper and electronic vaccine certificate solutions require unnecessary identity checks. An example scenario:

  • A doorperson is checking vaccine status to allow people into a stadium or event
  • They would ask to see a paper vaccine certificate or a QR code on a device
  • They would then need to see a piece of photo ID (for example, a driver’s license)
  • They look at the person’s face and make sure it matches the photo ID
  • They then match the name on the photo ID with the name on the vaccine certificate

This takes time. It also leaks data, as the checker doesn’t need to see an address or date of birth or other info shown on the driver’s license. This approach also requires the checker to make judgments based on what they believe to be correct. They could easily fail to spot a fake, or not want to challenge an individual presenting something they believe could be a fake.

The Mvine-iProov solution uses face verification to make the process more secure and convenient:

  • The doorperson would scan someone’s QR code on paper or a device
  • They would then scan the person’s face
  • The checker would see a tick to confirm that the person in front of them is verified as the holder of the certificate attached to the QR code

No unnecessary data is shared, it is fast and simple, and the checker has to make no judgments. No one else can use your certificate. No one can steal it, spoof it, or fake it. And because it uses cloud technology, the certificate can be accessed anywhere on any device. The person showing their certificate doesn’t need a smartphone – they can show the QR code on paper.

Where are fake COVID vaccine certificates being used?

Fake and forged vaccine certificates and test result documentation are being sighted all over the world. UK border staff are catching more than 100 fake certificates every day, while researchers have found over 1200 vendors offering false documents operating worldwide. And these are just the cases that have been caught and reported.

Fake certificates allow people to gain access to services and venues without actually meeting the safety requirements. Affected sectors include:

As the world continues to re-open after the pandemic, how long before fake test and vaccine certificates are reported at public events, schools and universities?

Fake vaccine certificates vs fake vaccine test results: what’s the difference?

In many countries, the discussion about vaccine certificates and how they will be used is ongoing. COVID test results, on the other hand, are already being used extensively for travel and other purposes. Both can be faked.

Fake COVID test documentation

PCR and other tests are being used by many governments to manage people coming in and out of the country. Someone wanting to travel has to take a test a few days in advance and be able to show a negative result, usually on paper, for them to be permitted to travel. If someone has received a positive test result, or has failed to do a test at all, they may be tempted to make or buy a fake document. As with any paper documentation, this is relatively easy to fake.

Fake vaccine certificates

Governments and organizations are looking at various ways of enabling people to share their vaccine status so they can travel or access other services. Someone who has been fully vaccinated would potentially be able to travel without self-isolating or paying to stay in a hotel if they could prove their vaccine status.

In most countries, vaccine certificates have been issued on paper cards containing a name and some other written details. These cards are easy to copy. Many countries have either introduced a digital alternative or are looking at doing so but the risk of fakery remains a problem: a QR code on an app can be copied and shared even more easily than a paper document.

How are COVID-19 certificates being faked?

Paper COVID certification

Paper-based documents have been used extensively for issuing and presenting COVID test results and vaccine status. Paper will always be needed, as not everyone has a smartphone or other device on which to store their credentials. Unfortunately, paper-based certificates have limitations. They can easily be lost, shared, doctored, or faked.

A factor in this has been people sharing their vaccine certificates on social media. A bad actor could easily lift the certification number and personal information from these images and create high-quality replicas. There are even forums online with specific instructions and templates on how to fake paper COVID-19 vaccination cards.

Digital COVID credentials

Governments and organizations are looking to digital solutions to facilitate the sharing of an individual’s vaccine status. A QR code on an app is harder to lose or damage than a paper version, but can still be shared, stolen, or faked using screenshots.

By removing the risk of people being able to use fake COVID status certification, governments and organizations can ensure public confidence and safety and facilitate a return to normal life.

Read more about iProov and Mvine’s COVID Status solution. To learn more, please book a demo with iProov here.

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