Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had slammed IT contractor IBM and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, warning them heads will roll over Tuesday’s census debacle.
The census website has now been offline since Tuesday night after a combination of denial of service attacks and hardware failures. Turnbull said it was likely to be restored on Thursday.
IBM was the main technology provider on the census website, having won a $9.6 million contract in 2014 to host and manage the site.
Revolution IT was also contracted in advance of the census to perform load-testing and ensure that high demand would not have a negative impact on the performance of the website.
IT professionals have said the fact that the website became a target of a denial of service attack showed that the bureau and the contractors were under-prepared for millions of Australians logging in together and expected attack.
“I too am very angry about this I am bitterly disappointed about this. This has clearly been a failure on the part of the ABS, absolutely, and it appears that the cause of this that measures that ought to have been in place to prevent these denial of service attacks were not put in place,” Mr Turnbull told 2GB.
He said a denial of service attack – which the ABS said was partly responsible for their decision to take the site offline – was as predictable as the sun coming up and that the review into the bureau would determine which heads would roll.
Mr Turnbull said there clearly had been a failure within the ABS and IBM.
“There are clearly very big issues, very big issues for IBM, the systems provider for the census and for the Australian Bureau of Statistics itself.
“The contractors IBM was announced in late 2014. IBM have done this before but there clearly has been a failure in the work that was done. I mean a denial of service attack is as predictable as the rain will fall one day or the sun wll come up,” Mr Turnbull said.
Mr Turnbull said there would be serious consequences as a result of the review by the Prime Minister’s cyber security advisor Alistair MacGibbon: “the review and which heads will roll where and when is something that will follow”.
Mr MacGibbon predicted on Thursday that there would be more denial of service attacks when the census is restored, and they will be possibly more intense.
South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon said the ABS should be asking for its money back from IT contractors. He said the government should be examining the contracts to look for the expectations.
He also questioned the abilities of defence agency The Australian Signals Directorate who advised the ABS over the preparation and the attacks.
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