VST Enterprises (VSTE), a British cyber technology company, has launched the world’s first secure health passport which has been specifically designed for air travel.
The V-Health Passport, which is free for the public to download, works alongside Covid-19 testing and vaccinations without the use of bar codes or QR code technology.
Scepticism surrounding the security of QR and bar codes has arisen recently following a cyber attack on Tony Abbot, the former Australian prime minister. His Qantas airline boarding pass was hacked, revealing private information including his password and messages between the former PM and Qantas staff.
Louis-James Davis, CEOof VST Enterprises and inventor of the VCode and VHealth Passport, reiterated how unsafe QR codes can be. “Not only is a citizen’s personal information at risk, but their Covid-19 test status, vaccination records and also their credit card information. All of this can lead to the very real potential of a massive data breach and a person’s personal information and data hacked and stolen. This is of particular concern when using a bar code or QR code technology designed for use to authenticate a person’s Covid-19 testing and/or vaccinations records.”
In Russia and the Middle East, there has been a significant rise in sales of fake Covid-19 test certificates, presenting a wider threat to security measures. Due to the rise in fake test certificates, a real threat is placed on passengers who have gone through the correct procedures to fly.
According to the Manchester-based technology company, the V-Health Passport is incredibly secure as it uses VCode scanning. The passport is said to have 2.2 quintillion collision-free combination codes which decode based on geo-location, time, date, device type and user login. This means that the software cannot be infiltrated by hackers.
Louis-James Davis believes that public reluctance to use recently developed apps, such as NHS track and trace, are purely down to security issues that he hopes to eradicate. “The lack of engagement and interaction by the public with Government track and trace app/s over the pandemic was over privacy, security of data and the tracking of a person’s live location. This is why we have built a unique system in the vein of ‘Self Sovereign ID’ with the ethics of privacy and security by design. The V-Health Passport puts the citizen in control in a way which they share information with who, when and where.”
By using the new passport, a passenger’s identity can be validated and information regarding Covid-19 vaccinations can be stored. Customers are also provided with contact tracing technology which uses anonymised data.
The technology does not track your live location. Instead, all data is secured in a GDPR framework that gives customers the option of how they share their data.
When asked whether the passport app would be an effective travel necessity after the threat of Covid-19 decreases, Davis said, “Yes, we believe that airlines and Governments will move to adopt VHealth Passport as a standard mandatory requirement for flying, much like you carry a passport and drivers’ licence. The VHealth Passport is a secure digital passport system that confirms your genuine identity - as the Health Passport uploads your existing Government ID, cross checks against databases and then finally confirms through facial recognition of your phone.”
Forbes recently conducted an investigation in the US regarding the use of QR codes. It was found that around 11 million households in America will scan a QR code this year and around 71% of those people will be unsure as to whether their device has been hacked.
As QR codes can be cloned, those who want to cause security damage can place a fake code over the original. Once someone has scanned the code, they will be redirected to a site with a very similar domain and design to the original, therefore leading them to believe it is safe to enter their personal information.
“We all leave data footprints of some form or another in our everyday lives - it’s no difference from going to the shops or the petrol station and paying for fuel with a credit card,” explained Davis. “The very real threat to airlines is having passengers using fake Covid-19 certificates - which are now a booming business in Russia and the Middle East - which put both airlines and passengers at real risk of unknowingly carrying a passenger who is positive.
“Also the use of health passports that use bar code or QR code technology are inherently unsecure and should not be used for fear of a potential data breach. Only in the last couple of days Air Asia were fined for allowing a COVID Positive passenger on one of their flights.”
Whilst providing a secure means of travel for passengers, the new app will also help to staff return to their offices, factories and warehouses.
“We firmly believe it will kick-start and revive the aviation industry,” said Davis. “It will give airlines and passengers the confidence to fly and travel again. Most importantly, it means everyone on that flight has been tested for COVID, or has had the vaccination. This is as a close as we can expect to get back to normality. It would also allow for quarantine restrictions to be lifted allowing greater freedom of movement and people then travelling again as they won’t need to quarantine any longer.”