Nearly 44 hours after the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) pulled the plug on its website on Census night, the site is finally back online.
The Census website is now available. Thanks for your patience. We apologise for the inconvenience. https://t.co/j03F1bkPGl
— Census Australia (@ABSCensus) August 11, 2016
Authorities deliberately closed down both the census and ABS websites around 7.30pm on Tuesday night over fears after a fourth Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack bombarded the website just as millions of Australians sat down to fill out the census online for the first time in its 105-year history.
But the extended closure of the site, which the ABS blamed on a series of failures described as a “confluence of events”, including hardware failure when a router became overloaded and the failure of geo-blocking software to prevent the alleged DDoS attack, as well as “a large increase in traffic to the website with thousands of Australians logging on to complete their Census”.
Today prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said he was “very angry about this” and “bitterly disappointed”, declaring “heads will roll” in the wake of the failure.
Within minutes of it returning, some people were still reporting problems with access.
— Kara Vickery (@kara_vickery) August 11, 2016
— Alex Eckermann (@alexeckermann) August 11, 2016
— Danial Clarence (@ClancyQuips) August 11, 2016
To complete the census online, you need a 12-digit pass code, which was sent to households via Australia Post in a letter marked “To the resident”.
And despite planning the event for five years, even on census night, August 9, the ABS was still saying to people that letters with the pass code were still being delivered.
@Xb_Katie Letters are still being delivered. Please complete ASAP after receiving and fill out as though it were census night.
— Census Australia (@ABSCensus) August 9, 2016
Australians have until September 23 to complete the census.
The prime minister’s advisor on cyber security, Alastair MacGibbon, will be conducting an inquiry into what went wrong at the ABS, which spent more than $10 million building and testing the website with IBM.
Meanwhile, privacy commissioner Timothy Pilgrim, whose office has been investigating the incident, issued a statement on Thursday afternoon saying there was no breach of privacy.
It reads, in part, that:
I have received a briefing directly from the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) — the Commonwealth’s pre-eminent cyber-security analysts.
ASD advised me that the incident was a denial of service (DoS) attack and did not result in any unauthorised access to, or extraction of, any personal information and, on the information provided to me by ASD, I am satisfied that personal information was not inappropriately accessed, lost or mishandled.
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