Digital health passport trials get underway
A digital health pass for travellers to document their COVID-19 test status is currently being trialled at airports.
It is hoped that the CommonPass will allow safer cross border travel by giving both travellers and governments confidence in people's COVID-19 status.
The first trials are taking place on Cathay Pacific Airways and United Airlines with select volunteers on flights between London, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore. Additional airlines with routes across Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East will follow shortly after.
To use the CommonPass, travellers take a COVID-19 test at a certified lab and upload the results to their mobile phone. They then complete any additional health screening questionnaires required by the destination country.
With test results and questionnaire complete, the CommonPass confirms a traveller’s compliance with the destination country entry requirements, and generates a QR code. This code can then be scanned by airline staff and border officials, and printed for users without mobile devices.
The pass has been developed by The Commons Project Foundation, a Swiss-based non-profit company that focuses on digital services for the common good, and is backed by The World Economic Forum. United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are observing the trials.
In a statement, The Commons Project said that the CommonPass has been designed to protect personal data in compliance with relevant privacy regulations, including GDPR. However a study recently published in medical journal The Lancet raises several questions around the ethics of a digital passport, including stating that "steps must be taken to avoid the production of fraudulent immunity passports, and careful attention must be given to privacy concerns and information governance."
Dr. Bradley Perkins, Chief Medical Officer of The Commons Project and former Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer at the CDC said: “Without the ability to trust COVID-19 tests – and eventually vaccine records – across international borders, many countries will feel compelled to retain full travel bans and mandatory quarantines for as long as the pandemic persists.”
“With trusted individual health data, countries can implement more nuanced health screening requirements for entry.”
Christoph Wolff, Head of Mobility at the World Economic Forum, added: "Individual national responses will not be sufficient to address this global crisis. Bans, bubbles and quarantines may provide short term protection, but developed and developing nations alike need a long-term, flexible and risk-based approach like CommonPass."
Check Point: Securing the future of enterprise IT
Cybersecurity solutions provider Check Point was founded in 1993 with a mission to secure ‘everything,’ and that includes the cloud. Conscious that nothing remains static in the digital world, the company prides itself on an ability to integrate new technology with its solutions. Across almost three decades in operation, Check Point, with its team of over 3,500 experts, has become adept at protecting networks, endpoints, mobile, IoT, and cloud.
“The pandemic has been somewhat of an accelerator in the evolution of cyber risk,” explains Erez Yarkoni, Global VP for Cloud Business. “We had remote workers and cloud adoption a long time beforehand, but now the volume and surface area is far greater.” Formerly a CIO for several big-name telcos before joining Check Point in 2019, Yarkoni considers the cloud to be “part of [his] heritage” and one of modern IT’s most valuable tools.
Check Point has three important ‘product families’, Quantum, CloudGuard, and Harmony, with each one providing another layer of holistic IT protection:
- Quantum: secures enterprise networks from sophisticated cyber attacks
- CloudGuard: acts as a scalable and unified cloud-native security platform for the protection of any cloud
- Harmony: protects remote users and devices from cyber threats that might compromise organisational data
However, more than just providing security, Yarkoni emphasises the need for software to be proactive and minimise the possibility of threats in the first instance. This is something Check Point assuredly delivers, “the industry recognises that preventing, not just detecting, is crucial. Check Point has one platform that gives customers the end-to-end cover they need; they don't have to go anywhere else. That level of threat prevention capability is core to our DNA and across all three product lines.”
In many ways, Check Point’s solutions’ capabilities have actually converged to meet the exact working requirements of contemporary enterprise IT. As more companies embark on their own digital transformation journeys in the wake of COVID-19, the inevitability of unforeseen threats increases, which also makes forming security-based partnerships essential. Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) sought out Check Point for this very reason when it was in the process of selecting Microsoft Azure as its cloud provider. “Let's be clear: Azure is a secure cloud, but when you operate in a cloud you need several layers of security and governance to prevent mistakes from becoming risks,” Yarkoni clarifies.
The partnership is a distinctly three-way split, with each bringing its own core expertise and competencies. More than that, Check Point, HOOPP and Microsoft are all invested in deepening their understanding of each other at an engineering and developmental level. “Both of our organisations (Check Point and Microsoft) are customer-obsessed: we look at the problem from the eyes of the customer and ask, ‘Are we creating value?’” That kind of focus is proving to be invaluable in the digital era, when the challenges and threats of tomorrow remain unpredictable. In this climate, only the best protected will survive and Check Point is standing by, ready to help.
“HOOPP is an amazing organisation,” concludes Yarkoni. “For us to be successful with a customer and be selected as a partner is actually a badge of honor. It says, ‘We passed a very intense and in-depth inspection by very smart people,’ and for me that’s the best thing about working with organisations like HOOPP.”