IBM breaks silence over Census

Host of the 2016 Census expresses regret over inconvenience

IBM has responded to the Census debacle after a conspicuous silence in the wake of Tuesday night’s website meltdown.

“We genuinely regret the inconvenience that has occurred,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement issued yesterday evening.

“We want to thank the ABS, the Australian Signal Directorate and [the Prime Minister’s Special Advisor on Cyber Security] Alastair MacGibbon for their continued support.”

IBM is hosting the Census under a contract announced in late 2014.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday lashed out over the Census website failure, saying in a radio interview that “there has clearly been a failure in the work that was done” by IBM. “My prediction is that there will be some very serious consequences to this,” Turnbull said.

The denial of services attacks on the Census site “should have been repelled readily... they weren’t because of failures in the system that had been put in place for ABS by IBM.”

“IBM’s priority over the last two days was to work with the ABS to restore the Census site,” IBM’s spokesperson said.

“We are committed to our role in the delivery of this project. Continuing to maintain the privacy and security of personal information is paramount.

“The Australian Signals Directorate has confirmed no data was compromised. Our cyber-security experts are partnering with national intelligence agencies to ensure the ongoing integrity of the site.”

“The secure online Census form was put back up at 2.30 pm, Thursday 11th August, following advice from the Australian Signals Directorate,” the Australian Bureau of Statistics said in a statement yesterday afternoon.

“The ABS again apologises for the inconvenience and thanks everyone affected for their patience and helping shape Australia’s future.”

This morning the official Census Twitter account said: “We're experiencing some delays with emails being sent. Please ensure you record your password manually if you wish to save & come back later”.

The issue may be related to ABS blocking resolution of census.abs.gov.au when using Google's DNS servers (or other overseas DNS servers), with some reports indicating Gmail accounts are unable to receive Census emails. An nslookup of census.abs.gov.au using one of Google's public DNS servers failed at time of publication.

The ABS previously indicated it implemented geoblocking of overseas IP addresses in an attempt to stave off a series of denial of service attacks.

The government has announced a review into the Census. The review will be led by MacGibbon.

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Rohan Pearce

Rohan Pearce

Computerworld
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