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Airlines Have New Security Threat: Fake COVID-19 Test Certificates

While airlines are working every possible angle to resume international operations, they could be facing a new digital security issue. Some airlines are reporting dealing with agents selling fake COVID-19 test certificates, which could allow untested passengers to fly without ever getting a negative prognosis.

Restoring international travel is at the core of every airline’s recovery plan. However, a new digital threat could create major problems before borders even begin to reopen to flyers. The Wall Street Journal reports multiple countries are experiencing problems with passengers carrying fake COVID-19 test certificates.

Fake Test Certificate Arrests Made in Europe, Indonesia and Zimbabwe

In nearly every situation, those who are allowed to travel internationally must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 exam, as well as a quarantine plan. Many of these certificates are based around the International Air Transport Association’s Travel Pass framework, which is currently operating with certain airlines as a health passport.

But the system isn’t completely without problems, as some travelers are boarding aircraft with fake certificates. The IATA says they have discovered fake certificates coming from multiple nations, including Afghanistan, Brazil and France. Furthermore, authorities in several nations – such as Spain, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe – have also made arrests related to fake certificates.

Making issues worse, airlines now say that despite their rush to resume international routes, their staff is not prepared to deal with fake certificates. Furthermore, their issues could be made worse when countries start to demand proof of vaccination prior to travel.

Part of the issue could lie in the development of digital health passports. Both the IATA and the Commons Foundation are testing and deploying their own versions of digital apps which authenticate COVID-19 test results. This creates a logistical problem for frontline workers who must determine a real test certificate from a fake.

White House Won’t Get Involved in Health Transport Standard Debate

The news comes as the White House announced they will stay on the sidelines on determining a standard for digital health passports. In a previous statement, officials in the Biden administration have stated they won’t favor one technology for another, while in a separate appearance, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the U.S. would not create a digital health passport mandate.

sethb May 24, 2021

There was (still is) a very simple way to assure people could prove their own vaccination status if they wanted to, without loss of privacy. When you get vaccinated, the nurse takes your photo and your name, and assigns you a random 20-digit number. There's a government website that, when that number is entered, provides your name & photo to show you've been vaccinated. Your vaccination "passport" is just a barcode with that number. If you don't provide the number, you can't be looked up (the odds of a random number being valid are ridiculously low).

tcollins33 April 16, 2021

awayIgo: You don't understand the concern for privacy? You truly think it wouldn't be anything more than your vaccination status? If you TRULY believe that, I feel bad for how gullible you are.

dbfact April 16, 2021

See writings of Naomi Wolf if you dont understand why this whole passport/testing is a VERY BAD idea. Doing 'nothing' would have been a far superior strategy. Even the WHO stats show Covid statistics comparable to the flu. Time to see this for what it was and move on. Be brave, stay free!

aethelwulf April 15, 2021

Epidemic problem in Hong Kong! A negative certificate is required to land in HK. It's required to even set foot on the plane overseas. Yet every day, EVERY SINGLE DAY, it's the same thing, same thing over and over. The news reports "New cases in Hong Kong, from people who just arrived from India, Pakistan, Philippines, Indonesia." Always the same thing, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Indonesia.

azmojo April 15, 2021

If the vaccinations work and anyone who wants one can get one, what is the problem if someone isn't vaccinated? Seems like they made their own decision to take their own chances.