Online portal for Covid certificates launched, with typo in the URL

Programmer and journalist set up site with correct spelling of URL to direct to official site

The website created by Adam Conway and Fionn Kelleher, which redirects to the Government website

The website created by Adam Conway and Fionn Kelleher, which redirects to the Government website

 

The Department of Health’s new online portal for those waiting to receive certificates proving their status as being recovered from Covid-19 has been set up with an error in the domain name.

The service was established following complaints of long delays on the dedicated telephone helpline.

The domain name of the Government’s website is irishcovidcertifcateportal.org, missing an “i” in “certificate”.

Technology journalist Adam Conway, and computer science student and programmer Fionn Kelleher have since set up another website with the correct spelling of “certificate”, which directs visitors to the Government’s official website.

Mr Conway said he became worried that criminal actors would buy the domain name with the correct spelling of “certificate” .

“That’s why I wanted to jump on this, I knew how easy it would be to take it and abuse it.”

Mr Conway tweeted about the matter, and Mr Kelleher responded by buying the domain name, to ensure it was not used by “someone with nefarious intent”.

The pair said it was relatively simple to register the domain and make the dummy site.

Speaking of the risk involved if criminal actors bought the URL with the correct spelling of “certificate”, Mr Conway said: “They could make an exact copy of the Government website and people wouldn’t know the difference.

“People could enter their personal details and it wouldn’t go to the Government, it could go straight into the wrong hands. Especially with PPS numbers, criminals could very easily take part in identity theft.”

It cost Mr Conway and Mr Kelleher just over €16 to buy the domain name, which will host the dummy website for one year.

Comment has been sought from the Department of Health in relation to the spelling in the URL, and the dummy website.

The official portal

Earlier on Friday, the official portal – with the misspelling of “certificate” in the URL – was set up by the Government.

The portal is accessed via the Government’s website Gov.ie or at https://irishcovidcertifcateportal.org/.

*The domain name was later changed by the Department subsequently and you can reach the offical website here.

It is intended for use by members of the public who have had Covid-19 more than 11 days but less than180 days (six months) ago and are now recovered.

It has been launched in addition to the freephone number for those who have been vaccinated.

Instead of calling the digital Covid certificate (DCC) helpline, those who have recovered from Covid-19 can now fill out an online form to request a certificate of recovery.

This certificate proves that the person has had Covid-19 in the last six months and it is considered another form of the European Union’s DCC, a statement from the Department of Health said.

It comes after numerous complaints from members of the public of long wait times and concern that they have not received their DCC in time for planned trips.

The helpline for people with queries on DCCs for international travel has handled less than 7 per cent of the calls it received in its first three days.

Staff handled 4,761 of the 70,000 calls the centre received over Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Department said it endeavours to constantly improve this service.

The centre opened with 55 staff, rising to more than 80, with more than 100 to be in place next week.

If members of the public have questions about their vaccination certificate, they can continue to call the helpline on 1800 807 008 or +353 76 888 5513 when calling from abroad.

However, the Department of Health has asked that only those who plan to travel in the next 10 days call the helpline, as non-urgent calls are adding very significant wait times to all calls, and preventing many urgent calls from getting through.

Queries in relation to a certificate of a Covid-19 test can be directed to your private test provider, it said.

*This article was amended on August 1st, 2021