Category Archives: DARK WEB

Call for stricter access to Medicare cards after numbers sold on dark web

Australians could be handed greater control over who can access their Medicare card details amid fears the information can be too easily obtained.

An independent report, released on Saturday, has suggested tighter security following a review ordered by the federal government in July after a small batch of card numbers were sold on the dark web.

Medicare healthcare cards in Sydney, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015. The Federal government has indicated there could be further changes to planned Medicare reforms after dumping a controversial GP rebate. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING

It noted that while there had been no risk to patients’ health records as a result of the sale, Medicare card numbers are susceptible to theft for identity fraud and other “illicit activities”.

Illegally obtained Medicare details can also be used to fraudulently make claims and access taxpayer-funded health services.

The report has recommended that doctors and other health professionals be required to get consent from patients – either in writing or verbally – before accessing their Medicare numbers.

“In addition to providing patients with more control, this would also increase consumer awareness about how their Medicare information is used and shared,” it said.

The federal government is also being urged to phase out the ability to access Medicare numbers over the phone.

Roughly 580,000 calls are made to the Department of Human Services requesting card access, but security checks aren’t as robust as the online portal.

“The information required in the provider security check to access a Medicare card number could be accessible by someone other than the provider,” the report found.

While the review panel didn’t see any evidence of fraudulent requests for Medicare numbers over the phone, it “remains concerned about the potential risks presented by the channels”.

It recommends that, while phasing it out, conditions for the release or confirmation of card information by phone should be strengthened with additional security questions to whoever is calling in the request.

The panel – led by Peter Shergold, former secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet – stopped short of calling for mandatory identity checks whenever someone uses their Medicare card, but suggested health professionals be required to take “reasonable steps” to confirm a patient’s identity when they are first treated.

It has also recommended that Australians be able to request an audit log of people who have sought access to their card number through the online portal, and that batch requests for numbers over the web be limited to 50 numbers at a time day – a dramatic reduction in the existing 500 record limit.

Last financial year, about 10.2 million searches for Medicare card numbers were made via the online service.

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge and Health Minister Greg Hunt welcomed the report and promised the government will respond by the end of the year.


Henry Sapiecha

Hacker places over 50 million file sharing accounts for sale on dark web

The recently-defunct IT company was once the third-largest music and video file sharing service in the US.



User accounts for iMesh, a now defunct file sharing service, are for sale on the dark web.

The New York-based music and video sharing company was a peer-to-peer service, which rose to fame in the file sharing era of the early-2000s, riding the waves of the aftermath of the “dotcom” boom. After the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sued the company in 2003 for encouraging copyright infringement, the company was given status as the first “approved” peer-to-peer service.

At its peak in 2009, the service became the third-largest service in the US. But last month, iMesh unexpectedly shut down after more than a decade in business.

LeakedSource, a breach notification site that allows users to see if their details have been leaked, has obtained the database.

The group’s analysis of the database shows it contains a little over 51 million accounts.

The database, of which a portion was shared with ZDNet for verification, contains user information that dates back to late-2005 when the site launched, including email addresses, passwords (which were hashed and salted with MD5, an algorithm that nowadays is easy to crack), usernames, a user’s location and IP address, registration date, and other information — such as if the account is disabled, or if the account has inbox messages.

LeakedSource said in a blog post that iMesh was likely breached in September 2013, based on the most recent records in the database.

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In a message on Saturday, one of the group members said that “someone obviously hacked” the site, but did not speculate on who was responsible. “Who knows who really did it,” the person said.

For its part, the company’s chief operating officer Roi Zemmer said in an email that the company “is not aware of any hacks” and “is currently using state of the art technology to protect users’ info.”

After repeated requests, Zemmer did not confirm whether or not a sample of the database we sent him, which was provided by LeakedSource, was valid. Zemmer did not outright deny that the company had been hacked.

Attempts to follow up with Zemmer over the weekend went unanswered.

Given that the service is no longer operational, it’s difficult to verify the data. We reached out by email to a number of those who most recently to joined the service (which were listed in the breach) for confirmation, but we didn’t immediately hear back over the weekend. (We will update the story if that changes.)

What made the verification process more challenging is what appeared to be a considerable drop in user numbers in the site’s later years, based on LeakedSource’s analysis of the data. The service reached a peak of 9.4 million new users in 2009, but its growth had slowed to just 2.5 million new users by 2013 when the hack is said to have been carried out.

As many as 13 million accounts are from the US, with millions more from the UK and Europe.

The data is now up for sale on the dark web.

The hacker and seller who goes by the name “Peace,” who made a name for himself selling stolen data from Fling, LinkedIn, Badoo, and, also obtained a copy of the database — now thought to be in wide circulation among the hacker community.

In an encrypted chat, Peace confirmed that he is now selling the database on a dark web marketplace for 1 bitcoin, or about $590 at the time of writing.


Henry Sapiecha


Hackers sell 425 million users’ data on dark web Myspace &Tumblr hacked:


The enormous data set, a reported 427,484,128 passwords, is apparently for sale on the dark website The Real Deal for 6 Bitcoin (roughly $A4,350) Photo: Dimitri Otis

360 million Myspace accounts and 65 million Tumblr accounts, including email addresses, usernames and passwords have turned up for sale on the darkweb, including the private information of Australian users dating back to both sites’ inception.

In what may be one of the biggest breaches of all time, Time Inc, the parent company of Myspace, confirmed it was hacked in June 2013, and that the data has only now appeared for sale.

“Shortly before the Memorial Day weekend, we became aware that stolen Myspace user login data was being made available in an online hacker forum,” the site announced in a blog post.


360 million Myspace accounts have been leaked.

Despite Myspace having only a fraction of the traffic it once enjoyed ten years ago, dormant Myspace accounts created before 2013 have also been compromised, said Time

While Tumblr flagged the breach in 2013, it did not reveal the extent.

Fairfax Media has verified the Myspace hack using an (embarrassing) hotmail address from 2005. That address and the passwords linked to that Myspace account have appeared in the stolen data set.

The danger arises when users link the same password to various accounts, whether they be social media, banking or email accounts. To check if your email address is linked to a breach, visit this website.

The enormous data set, a reported 427,484,128 passwords, is apparently for sale on the dark website The Real Deal for 6 Bitcoin (roughly $A4,350).

News outlet Motherboard has tested a sample of the data, revealing active passwords, suggesting the leak is authentic.

The incident comes the same month that social media platform LinkedIn confirmed 164 million IDs have appeared for sale online as well. The breach occurred in 2012, though only now has the data set emerged for sale. There is some speculation the same hacker is behind both breaches.

While no financial information has been compromised, if users routinely use the same email address and password combination, they are at a high risk of having further personal information compromised.

“It all comes back to whether they’ve been following good password practices or not,” Security researcher Troy Hunt told the BBC.

“If they’ve reused passwords across multiple services – and remember, these breaches date back several years so they need to recall their practices back then – then they may well have other accounts at risk too,” he said.

Myspace has said it is also using automated tools to attempt to identify and block any suspicious activity that might occur on Myspace accounts.

“We have also reported the incident to law enforcement authorities and are cooperating to investigate and pursue this criminal act,” said the site.


Henry Sapiecha

10 things you should know about the Dark Web [Internet’s underbelly] but probably don’t

A basic overview guide to the Internet’s underbelly — the Dark Web

1…Deep or Dark?

black web keyboard operator image

There’s a difference between the “Deep Web” and “Dark Web.” While the “Clear Web” is the surface area which is indexed by search engines such as Google and Yahoo, the Deep Web is an area search engines can’t crawl for or index. Plunging in further, the Dark Web is a small area within the Deep Web which is intentionally hidden from discovery.

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2…How do you access the Dark Web?


You can’t use standard access methods to gain entry into the Dark Web. The most common method is through the Tor network, an anonymous network created from nodes which disguise online activity. In order to use Tor, you need the Tor browser, and may also need to be issued an invitation to access certain .onion domains hidden within the Dark Web.

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3…Wait, Onion domains?


An .onion address is the result of Onion networking — low-latency communication designed to resist traffic analysis and surveillance. The use of Onion networking is not a perfect solution to maintain anonymity, but it does help disguise who is communicating with whom.

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4…It’s not just drugs


Many of us heard when the underground marketplace Silk Road, one of the largest hidden within the Tor network, was taken down following an investigation by US authorities. However, there are many more vendors peddling their wares within the Dark Web. While drugs are the most commonly-thought of when it comes to the secretive area, you can also purchase a plethora of other illegal goods. Weapons, porn, counterfeit money and fake identities, hacked accounts and even hitmen can be found if you have the cash. If someone annoys you, sending over a SWAT team as a “prank” is also possible.

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5…It’s also something of an eBay for peculiar items.


A quick browse and I could buy lifetime membership passes to popular services such as Netflix, old consoles, clothing, emulators and DVDs, a car or two and bulk weight loss pills. Technology is also popular — there is a wealth of devices available — both counterfeit and apparently legitimate — if you know where to look.

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6…The Dark Web is used for more than buying and selling.


So-called “ethical” hacking and political forums, archives of forbidden books, tips on how to care for your cat — there are potentially thousands of private .onion addresses hosted which go beyond marketplaces.

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7…Trading is hardly safe or risk-free


Whether you take a risk with buying bargain designer clothes on the Clear Web or sink a few Bitcoins in purchasing illegal items through the Dark Web, neither is risk-free.

Vendors and sellers might be trying to avoid the eyes of legal enforcement in the darker side of the Internet, but this doesn’t stop scams from taking place. Scam vendors and quick grab-and-run schemes run rampant — especially as there is no way to follow up with failed sales down the legal route.

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8…Buying and selling through the Dark Web


How do you trade without being linked to bank accounts? Virtual currency is the most common method, which includes “tumbling,” a laundering process which destroys the connection between a Bitcoin address which sends virtual currency and the recipient in the hopes of covering a user’s tracks. Some vendors offer escrow services which holds Bitcoin in trust until goods have been delivered and both parties are happy — although value fluctuations linked to Bitcoin use makes this move risky.

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9…Avoiding spying eyes


Aside from using the Tor browser and VPNs, a number of buyers and sellers use “Tails,” free software which can be booted from flash storage to provide end-to-end encryption for your browsing sessions.

To further cover their tracks, vendors and sellers will often also use public Wi-Fi hotspots to conduct their business.

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10…Reddit is used as a communication platform for Dark Web transactions


Although far from exhaustive, the best Clear Web resource to bounce around and learn a little about the darker, nastier aspects of the Internet is on Reddit. There are sub-forums in which Dark Web vendors and buyers exchange news, thoughts and seller reviews. Advice is also issued on how best to “clean house,” create safe “drop” zones to pick up packages ordered from the Dark Web and what to do if you think law enforcement is keeping an eye on you.

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Henry Sapiecha


What is the dark web?

guy_desktopIf you spend most of your screen time loitering on Facebook, Snapchat and email then you’ve only ever scratched the surface of the internet. There is an additional layer known as the dark web that allows people to circumvent surveillance and move around online without traceability. The original software, The Onion Router (TOR), was developed by US Naval Research Laboratory employees Paul Syverson, Michael Reed and David Goldschlag in the mid 1990s to protect the identity of US Navy intelligenceagents.


Henry Sapiecha

What is the dark web?

Computer Virus

Computer Virus

If you spend most of your screen time loitering on Facebook, Snapchat and email then you’ve only ever scratched the surface of the internet. There is an additional layer known as the dark web that allows people to circumvent surveillance and move around online without traceability. The original software, The Onion Router (TOR), was developed by US Naval Research Laboratory employees Paul Syverson, Michael Reed and David Goldschlag in the mid 1990s to protect the identity of US Navy intelligence agents.

Why did The Onion Router (TOR) become available to the public?

Navy intelligence officers aren’t hard to find if they’re the only people using it. The network had to be accessible for the general public so that officers could operate in a diverse crowd. Computer scientists Roger Dingledine and Nick Mathewson further refined TOR with Syverson in 2003 and it was released under free licence in 2004. At this time the US Navy cut ties with the TOR project, but the US Government continued to provide funding.

It also enabled intelligence officers to go deeper undercover simultaneously. The US Navy continues to use it for open source intelligence leads in the US and also used it while soldiers were deployed in the Middle East. When it opened to the public, TOR became an appealing tool for people dabbling in illegal activities to trade goods.

Further reading:

How does The Onion Router (TOR) work?

serversWhen a person uses TOR, their IP address is hidden and movements are bounced around to a number of servers, so that a direct journey from site A to site B can’t be tracked. The data that is accumulated from the start point to the destination is covered in onion-like layers making the user’s activity invisible and allowing anonymity.

Who enables this anonymity?

Today TOR is a not-for-profit organisation run by Roger Dingledine, Nick Mathewson and a number of volunteers. TOR volunteers are responsible for hiding the users’ IP address by acting as an ‘exit node’ and using their IP address in the place of the TOR user. Because these operators must use a traceable personal IP address, they risk having their homes raided by police because of the nature of materials linked to what passes through. Why would they do this? It’s a form of activism. They believe in people’s right to privacy.

Further reading:

Who’s footing the bill?

As a not-for-profit, TOR relies on donations from a selection of organisations. To date it has received more than 4300 personal donations. Donors in 2015 include Reddit, Free Radio Asia and an anonymous northern American internet service provider. US Government departments including the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour continue to provide funding.

What is it used for?

The dark web’s anonymity enabled people to conduct prohibited activities, the most successful of those being Silk Road, a marketplace for the trade of illegal goods. Approximately one million people using Silk Road made Bitcoin transactions that are estimated at US $1 billion. It launched in 2011 and was shut down by the FBI in 2013. In February 2015, Ross William Ulbricht was convicted of seven charges for being the site’s founder. In May 2015 he was sentenced to life in prison. Despite this, many traders continue to operate similar businesses in the dark web.

But it’s not all black market trading. Former US National Security Agency employee, Edward Snowden, used it to leak information about the NSA’s PRISM surveillance program to the media in 2013. Facebook wants in on the action, too, having launched a dark web page that gives users a chance to access the site without surveillance concerns. It could be of value to people in countries including North Korea and China, where access is blocked.

Further reading:

Resetting the dark web’s reputation

To battle through a significant negative perception problem, the TOR team hired public relations firm Thomson Communications to promote TOR’s burgeoning partnership with Mozilla.

This is far from a spin operation; it’s a chance for TOR to push its campaign to give people the right to protect their data. TOR’s internal media professional, Kate Krauss, recently told the Daily Dot: ‘Dark web colours the way people think about what we’re doing.’ Instead, replacement names like ‘onionspace’ have been tossed around. That’s important because a number of companies are interested in using TOR software to give people private browsing options. According to the TOR blog, they’re partnering with Mozilla to incorporate more privacy features into Mozilla’s products. ’We appreciate companies like Mozilla that see the importance of safeguarding privacy,’ the post said.

Further reading:

Light at the end of the dark web

guy_w_spraycanThis software enables much more than seedy trading. It increases the awareness of data retention and reinforces the message that people have a right to privacy and encourages more software developers to follow suit. Bittorrent recently released Bleep, a messaging service that doesn’t have a central server and therefore undermines data retention laws. While software such as TOR doesn’t pose any serious threat to existing mainstream internet, its mere existence raises questions about data retention and our right to privacy in the digital age.

Why is online privacy important?

You wouldn’t hand personal information to a stranger, but you run the risk of inadvertently doing so the more you rely on the internet. Our transactions and data usage are all traceable and hackable, too. Digital crime and fraud is rising as our online activity intensifies. In addition, data retention laws were passed in Australian Federal Parliament in March 2015.

These laws enable telecommunications companies to retain records of your internet use for two years and provide access to security agencies. Professor Matthew Warren, Deakin University’s Director of Research and Chair of Information Systems, says it doesn’t necessarily mean the government will be trawling your records for dirt. Ideally, they will use this data to protect people. ’People have a right to privacy to a certain extent, but governments have a duty of care to protect the population against criminals and terrorists in a physical or online context and this could impact personal privacy,’ he says.

Further reading:

What can individuals do to protect their privacy?

tabletDeakin University’s Professor Matthew Warren suggests the following steps:


  • don’t assume anything online is private
  • strengthen your passwords and think twice before sharing private details online
  • if keeping your data use private is important to you make sure you are aware of the Australian Privacy Laws and how they relate to you.


Henry Sapiecha

How To Access The Deep Dark Web Buying Guns and Drugs The Hidden Internet Exploring The Deep W



Henry Sapiecha