According to a document released through the Freedom of Information, three former Australian Federal Police Commissioners were victims of a data breach as hackers managed to obtain their Medicare card details and uploaded them on the dark web.
Tony Negus, Andrew Colvin, and Mick Keelty were the affected victims who had their Medicare card details uploaded on the defunct Alphabay marketplace. The AFP spokesperson told reporters that they were fully aware that the Medicare details were up on the dark web, but have no idea whether they were sold or not.
Paul Farrell, a journalist by profession, accused the human services as having the responsibility for the Medicare system but fails to make any comment on the leak. According to him, this problem has been there for some time as he was a victim of Medicare card details leak in 2017. After discovering that his Medicare card details were being auctioned on the dark web, he bought it off to avoid falling in the hands of bad actors.
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He stated that human services have failed to implement all the recommendations of the independent review into access control of Medicare data as claimed by a report. Alan Tudge, the human services minister was also aware of some of the lakes on the dark web.
In 2017, the Independent Review of access to Medicare card numbers reported that the Medicare card details are important components of proof of identity in Australia. The purpose serves as it is used in the verification of identity makes it a highly demanded card by criminals for identity theft and other criminal activities. It also established that the sales of the Medicare card details on the dark web affect the public confidence in the government information holding. When the Medicare card details fall in the wrong hands, they can be used for fraudulent Medicare claimings according to the report.
The AFP launched an investigation into The Alphabay market concerning the leak of the Medicare card details, and according to the report, up to 160 medical card details were obtained and sold on the platform. It was reported that the authorities issued a warrant to arrest the suspected vendor behind the Medicare data. However, no arrest has been made. The Alphabay market that facilitated the sales of high profile data was shut down by the authorities in 2017 with the arrested operator found dead in his prison cell in Thailand. Cybercriminals have no limit when it comes to launching an attack. They can strike as long as there are vulnerabilities and a possibility of success.
Operation Elaphiti which was launched to deal with this situation was suspended in June 2018. However, authorities reactivated it after discovering more Medicare card details being sold on the dark web. It was also reported that a newly launched marketplace was selling the Medicare card details. However, there were not enough resources to proceed with the investigation. It was reported that it will not be of public interest to allocate more funds to this operation or investigation due to the scale of offending as claimed by the official case note.
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The markets launched on the dark web has over the years been taken advantage of by criminals to buy cybercrime tools used to illegally obtain personally identifiable information from victims, or sell the obtained information or even use them to demand a ransom. Medicare card details sold on the dark web can be used to stage a more dangerous crime, making it a very serious issue.
From this case, government agencies must be fully responsible for the protection of card details at their disposal and do whatever it takes to avoid leaving avoidable loopholes in their security systems for hackers to take advantage of. Individuals should also be mindful of where they enter their card details on the internet, as it is easier to send sensitive information to hackers without being aware than having them hacked.
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