A malicious attack by foreign hackers is to blame for the Census chaos overnight, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ chief statistician.
David Kalisch told ABC radio this morning that the ABS believe the attack came from overseas and was clearly malicious.
He said the site was struck down by four DOS (denial of service) attacks between 5pm and 7.30pm last night, and that the ABS had shut the site down as a precaution after the fourth attack.
Mr Kalisch told the ABC that Australian Signals Directorate was investigating the attacks.
Did you manage to access the site and enter your data?
I haven’t done a count of the flood of Census frustration posts in my feed, but there was a steady stream from around 5pm yesterday till late last night when the Australian Bureau of Statistics closed their population count data collection website down for the night, and it began again first thing this morning.
One of my Facebook friends suggested that the Government could ditch the census web infrastructure altogether and simply count us via our posts about the ABS process on the social networking platform.
Another is still struggling away on the website, describing this as “the census that keeps on giving”.
The Shovel ran a satirical piece suggesting the Government would introduce a Facebook log-in feature to allow one-click completion of the Census.
Dozens of posts in my feed were illustrated by images of the same screen I saw when I tried to log in, featuring a message to try again in 15 minutes. I took that advice three times then gave up.
Several were slightly angrier in tone, and described having successfully logged in, completed the entire process and hit submit only to discover all their work was lost when the site crashed.
Then there were the smartypants who foresaw all of this and had contacted the ABS ahead of time to request a printed form. They posted pictures of their neat, sealed envelopes, filled in on Census night as required by law, and ready for submission.
My tech journalist mates spent Facebook time last night debating the merits of IBM’s cloud computing offering, muttering things like “who did the load testing?”, “I would not eliminate the possibility of a DDOS attack” and “IBM servers were hit by one million probes an hour”. Their analysis into the cause and handling of the mess will be worth reading in coming days.
The Government has reassured those of us who were unable to get through that they have until September 23 to complete the census, and that the data of those who did successfully submit their form is secure.
Did you manage to get through? Will you be trying again online, or requesting the printed form? Or will you be boycotting the whole thing?
Pictured above is a satirical image from The Shovel, which ran an article mocking the whole schemozzle, saying the ABS would introduce Facebook log-ins to allow one-click Census data submissions.