The Australian Bureau of Statistics has claimed that it took the Census system offline after was targeted by four denial of service attacks “of varying nature and severity”.
“The first three caused minor disruption but more than 2m forms were successfully submitted and safely stored,” said statement issued this morning by ABS head, Australian Statistician David Kalisch.
“After the fourth attack, just after 730pm, the ABS took the precaution of closing down the system to ensure the integrity of the data.”
Kalisch said that data submitted as part of the Census remained secure. The ABS is expected to issue another update at 9am.
“ABS would remind Australians that they have plenty of time to complete the Census, to well into September, and again note that fines will not be imposed for completing the Census after Census night,” the statement said.
“Government security agencies and external consultants have independently reviewed the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ online Census architecture, security and resilience,” a statement issued yesterday by small business minister Michael McCormack said.
“The ABS has an unblemished record in terms of the safe collection, storage and use of data from the Census,” McCormack said.
“Key measures are in place to safeguard information including strong encryption of data, restrict access on a need-to-know basis and monitoring of all staff, including regular audits.”
The Census had been billed as Australia’s “digital Census”, with the government expecting to save $100 million by pushing online participation instead of the use of paper forms.
In the lead up to Census night, people reported difficulty obtaining paper forms, with the ABS hotline overloaded.
In addition to the security of the online Census systems, an ABS plan to retain name and address data has been a source of controversy.