Australian online census shut down by cyberattacks

"The first three caused minor disruption but more than 2m forms were successfully submitted and safely stored".

Mr Kalisch told the ABC: "The online census form was subject to four denial of service attacks".

Following a week of calls for a boycott of the 2016 Census amid fears regarding the security of personal information to be collected online this year, no one seemed particularly surprised when the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) confirmed that the system had been targeted, and ultimately disabled, by malicious cyber attacks.

When it was reported on the 9th August that the site was inaccessible, the prevailing assumption was that the ABS servers were simply not up to the task to process such a vast amount of requests from legitimate users at the same time.

"I want to assure Australians that the unequivocal advice we have that their Australian census data is safe, it has not been compromised", Mr Turnbull said.

Australian time, said Mr. Turnbull's special adviser on cybersecurity Alastair MacGibbon.

"The scale of the attack, it was quite clear it was malicious", he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said there were proper defences in place, but a computer hardware failure led to the decision to temporarily take down the site to protect the data of 2.33 million people who had completed their census forms.

Officials have assured people that their private data was secure, and stressed that the attack was on the system, not on the data.

But Mr Kalisch wanted to remind Australians that they have plenty of time to complete the Census, to well into September.

"I think there needs to be a Senate inquiry into how the ABS is going to handle privacy and information security moving forward". Security officials would attempt to determine the source of the attacks, he said.

McCormack then fronted the media this morning with Kalisch, saying there was no attack or hack, and the data had not been compromised.

The ABS has said that data submitted for the Census remains secure.

"After the government says the website totally could handle anything and not crash, I don't believe a word they say", Nola Bufton said.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) had boasted only hours before that its website would not crash.

"In my view it doesn't sound like a real denial of service attack".

Merimbula's Steve Humphries said he does not "understand the hysteria" surrounding the boycotts and Shylea Ulrick said the federal "government already has everyone's information so i don't see what the concern is". "The claims made after the event call into question the competence of those who planned the Census, as well as the Minister responsible", commented Simon Frew, Pirate Party President.

  • Jon Douglas