Govt downplays sale of Medicare card data on dark web

But refers matter to AFP.

The federal government minister in charge of Australia’s Medicare program has sought to downplay security concerns around Medicare card data being stolen and sold online.

The Guardian this morning revealed that personal Medicare details were on offer for less than $30 each on a dark web site known for trading illegal products.

It reported that the trader was able to access the data “on request” by exploiting a vulnerability on a government system.

The so-called “Medicare Machine” asks for 0.0089 bitcoin – or around A$29 – per record, and has reportedly sold around 75 individual records so far.

iTnews has confirmed the legitimacy of the Guardian report.

The data is of interest to criminals who could use it to defraud the government of Medicare rebates, or use the card data as part of 100 ID point checks.

But Human Services minister Alan Tudge downplayed the privacy breach, pointing out that health record details were not accessible.

“The only information claimed to be supplied was the Medicare card number,” Tudge said in a statement.

The department has regardless referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police.

Tudge did not comment further on the specific claims, saying only that the government was committed to cyber security as a priority and investigation on dark web activities occured continually.

In contrast, assistant minister to the treasurer, Michael Sukkar, told Sky News this morning the report was “extremely concerning”,

“We take extraordinarily seriously the data that we hold … in order to service

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