Australians’ Medicare card details are being sold on the darknet to the highest bidder, raising serious concerns that security at a government agency may be compromised.
The darknet is a secure section of the internet that can only be accessed with specific software or authorization and is often used for illegal activity.
Past cases have shown human trafficking, arms trade and drugs sales are rife across the largely uncontrollable section of the web.
Now, an investigation by The Guardian has revealed that a darknet trader is selling Australians’ Medicare card numbers for as little as $30 each.
A reporter from The Guardian bought his own Medicare card number from the trader, who is using a Department of Human Services logo on their profile.
There are fears the data could be used to commit fraud and make false claims on the Medicare rebate scheme.
Human Services Department minister Alan Tudge said today the government has launched an investigation into the case.
“I have received assurance that the information obtained by the journalist was not sufficient to access any personal health record,” he said in a statement.
“The only information claimed to be supplied by the site was the Medicare card number.
“Any apparent unauthorised access to Medicare card numbers is nevertheless of great concern.”
The Guardian reports the darknet trader has sold the details of about 75 Australians since October 2016, but is believed to have sold “a large number” prior to then.
The trader’s listing instructs people on how to purchase the Medicare data.
“Purchase this listing and leave the first and last name, and DOB of any Australian citizen, and you will receive their Medicare patient details in full.”
Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare Catherine King says the breach is a failure on the government’s behalf and that they need to explain to the Australian people why their personal information is “up for grabs for less than $30”.