The Census Was NOT Hacked, Or Maybe It Was...
Millions of Australians are still waiting to fill out their Census forms after the Australian Bureau of Statistics website crashed on Tuesday night and remained inaccessible on Wednesday.
The ABS has not yet confirmed when the website will be back up and running for the 20 million or more people who have yet to complete the compulsory survey.
The ABS was in damage control on Wednesday after its first online Census trial ended in disaster when the website crashed and then became unavailable, with conflicting reports coming from the ABS and the federal government about exactly what went wrong.
While the ABS cited foreign hackers as being responsible for the crash, Census minister Michael McCormack contradicted this report, claiming the crash was not due to an attack.
"This was not an attack, nor was it a hack," Mr McCormack told reporters on Wednesday, despite ABS Chief Statistician David Kalisch describing the events leading up the shutdown as "malicious" and "an attack" earlier on Wednesday.
However, the ABS has confirmed no data has been compromised or lost.
We apologise for the inconvenience. The 2016 online Census form was subject to four Denial of Service attacks of varying nature & severity.— Census Australia (@ABSCensus) August 9, 2016
The first three caused minor disruption but more than 2 million Census forms were successfully submitted and safely stored.— Census Australia (@ABSCensus) August 9, 2016
After the fourth attack, just after 7:30pm, the ABS took the precaution of closing down the system to ensure the integrity of the data.— Census Australia (@ABSCensus) August 9, 2016
Just after 7.30pm on Tuesday, a number of events simultaneously led to the crash, according to an ABS media statement.
These included a large increase in online traffic, a router becoming overloaded, leading to a hardware failure, a fourth "denial of service" attempt, meaning a user was denied access to the website and a false alarm in some system monitoring information.
"Had these events occurred in isolation, the online system would have been maintained," the statement read.
More than two million forms had been successfully submitted and stored before the website crashed, according to the ABS.
Steps have been taken during the night to remedy these issues, and we can reassure Australians that their data are secure at the ABS.— Census Australia (@ABSCensus) August 9, 2016
ABS would remind Australians that they have plenty of time to complete the Census, to well into September.— Census Australia (@ABSCensus) August 9, 2016
Fines will not be imposed for completing the Census after Census night.— Census Australia (@ABSCensus) August 9, 2016
Despite numerous attempts to contact the ABS for further information on Wednesday night, AAP did not receive a response.
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