By Ben Wilson
Beware. Personal information handed over to a government authority is not secure.
Evidence of this has come out via an expose of Medicare data published by the Guardian Australia (4 July 2017) and written by Paul Farrell.
It is revealed that someone is selling the information on the Darknet. For those unfamiliar with the term, this is the secret zone on the Internet, used for criminal and clandestine communication. It is also where illegal products and services are sold. This is a popular vehicle for selling illegal drugs and the activities of pedophile groups, for instance.
The advantage of the Darknet is that it is so far untraceable. The reason why it exists in the first place, is that it was created by the American military and spy organisations, to secretly pass on their communications. They still use it and others with just as much incentive to hide what they are doing, have piggy backed on the system.
It is likely that private citizens’ information is ending up in the hands of organised crime groups and being used to assist the creation of false identities.
Identity fraud is the fastest growing form of crime. This is where someone’s identity is stolen and used to extract money from existing private accounts, or profit from borrowing on credit on someone else’s name.
But that sets of personal details should be available on this medium should be of concern. It suggests that security is not up to standard at Medicare. And if it is not to standard here, is it at other government run authorities?
It is happening at a time when the amount of information demanded from each of us is growing exponentially.
The seller of the Medicare records on the Darknet is even using the Department of Human Services logo. Each card sells for 0.0089 bitcoin, which is internet virtual money and valued at $US22.
The intending buyer is told: “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.”
Although there are laws on the books that make it a serious crime to steal personal information without authority, or to sell it, the perpetrators are unlikely to be caught. The responsibility for cyber crime rests with the Federal Police and they have lagged far behind the crime gangs.
The only form of real protection available at present, is to minimise the information supplied to government authorities and other organisations. At the very least, people should be made aware of the risk and not be falsely told that what they hand over is secure.