ABS forced to defend Census website security

 
  Brianr Assistant Commissioner

Location: Dunedin, New Zealand
You do not have to fill it in on the night. I completed my 2006 Australian census online and so did many others. (I was working as a census collector). I completed my NZ Census in 2013 online. The 2011 census was cancelled due to the Christchurch earthquake, that was a major unforeseen problem. I made the best decision ever to migrate to NZ in 2010 and become a Kiwi this year. Far less problems with fewer drama queens

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  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
It's Census day and no letter or paper form has arrived.  I'll let them do all the hard work to chase me down...  No way am I going to bother calling the clogged-up help line.
Australia Post is atrocious, a shadow of its former self - wouldn't surprise me if your letter was sitting somewhere undelivered. Perhaps you'll need to contact the ABS help line later in the week and let them know nothing/nobody showed up?
don_dunstan
My local postie is dyslexic, I live at Number 6 and he continually delivers number 4's mail to my letterbox!

As to my census letter and log in ................. who know when it will ever arrive
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Could not comply last night as no letter and the system Being down anyhow but now on abc news revealed the system was hacked. It was hacked from overseas.

Don't believe a word I hear about privacy provisions. What a mess.
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

Could not comply last night as no letter and the system Being down anyhow but now on abc news revealed the system was hacked. It was hacked from overseas.

Don't believe a word I hear about privacy provisions. What a mess.
freightgate
I reckon the ABS are simply blame-shifting.  The so-called DDoS attack was probably just 10 million Australians trying to login after dinner...

Old school pen and paper it will be for us.  Whenever the blinkered thing appears.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
I reckon the ABS are simply blame-shifting.  The so-called DDoS attack was probably just 10 million Australians trying to login after dinner...

Old school pen and paper it will be for us.  Whenever the blinkered thing appears.
Carnot

Agreed.  This is a cover story.  Anyway the whole idea and credibility is now shot.  Also how does the ABS know they have never been hacked?  Big statement as they may not as yet have disvovered or may never discover it has already happened in the past.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
What a mess.
freightgate
Remember when we used to have services that worked in this country? Now it's like the old Soviet Union...
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
Speaking of government services, Mike Smith (former ANZ CEO) was commissioned by Turnbull to look into the biased ABC... What did he find?

Mr Smith admits that when he began the review, he believed the ABC was “inherently anti-business”. He now concedes, having examined a week’s worth of business coverage in February, that “this was incorrect and the coverage was generally unbiased” (Fairfax)

So he was paid big $$$ by the Liberal government to look into the bias at the ABC - obviously with the agenda of finding reasons to wreak it - and when he actually watched the ABC (which he evidently hadn't done before) he found it was actually pretty even-handed?
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
The Minister responsible (Michael McCormack) says the problems last night were not as a result of a foreign entity hacking the ABS (News Ltd). So it was just due to the ministry being incompetent and badly prepared then? The ABS themselves were saying quite explicitly last night on their Twitter feed that the problems were the result of a denial-of-service attack. I guess he had to come out and say something because I've been reading rumours this morning that the denial-of-service attack actually came from an ostensibly "friendly" foreign power as a reminder of what they could do to us if we didn't tow the line...
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
Speaking of government services, Mike Smith (former ANZ CEO) was commissioned by Turnbull to look into the biased ABC... What did he find?

Mr Smith admits that when he began the review, he believed the ABC was “inherently anti-business”. He now concedes, having examined a week’s worth of business coverage in February, that “this was incorrect and the coverage was generally unbiased” (Fairfax)

So he was paid big $$$ by the Liberal government to look into the bias at the ABC - obviously with the agenda of finding reasons to wreak it - and when he actually watched the ABC (which he evidently hadn't done before) he found it was actually pretty even-handed?
don_dunstan

if you take this further then the ABS has provided good value for money.  The ABS have managed to wreck the Census without the need for Mike Smith or anyone else to run a review.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Speaking of government services, Mike Smith (former ANZ CEO) was commissioned by Turnbull to look into the biased ABC... What did he find?

Mr Smith admits that when he began the review, he believed the ABC was “inherently anti-business”. He now concedes, having examined a week’s worth of business coverage in February, that “this was incorrect and the coverage was generally unbiased” (Fairfax)

So he was paid big $$$ by the Liberal government to look into the bias at the ABC - obviously with the agenda of finding reasons to wreak it - and when he actually watched the ABC (which he evidently hadn't done before) he found it was actually pretty even-handed?

if you take this further then the ABS has provided good value for money.  The ABS have managed to wreck the Census without the need for Mike Smith or anyone else to run a review.
x31
Yet......
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
Oh and to make matters worse in today's Adelaide Advertiser a spokesman for the ABS has admitted that  their Hardware, and software is now 30 years old in most places. So who is not surprised that the Census site fell over.

Hackers can get to modern stuff let alone 30 year old things that a six year old could probably hack. What a bloody laugh though this whole debacle has been. Better than watching a comedy show or film. Truth is stranger than fiction though!

It should be cancelled though as it is a ball's up of major proportions and a damned embarrassment as well.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
We are a world-wide laughing stock.
Our governments do nothing but bring the country into disrepute.
  9034 Train Controller

And who is hosting this disaster you might ask?

Why, IBM of course, the same mob who stuffed the QLD Health Payroll System a few years back.
mikesyd
This makes for an interesting read in light of the current events.

http://www.itnews.com.au/news/ibm-wins-96m-to-host-ecensus-in-2016-397613

As there is 6 week grace period  to actually do the census,  I will wait until the bunfight settles down.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
The ABS have managed to wreck the Census without the need for Mike Smith or anyone else to run a review.
x31
Either they genuinely didn't anticipate that everyone would log in between 7-9 EST last night to do it OR it was a denial-of-service attack from a foreign power, as speculated heavily on the internet this morning. Either way the whole thing has become an embarrassing reminder of how badly services have deteriorated in this country - there's no way the old ABS Census would have been allowed to degenerate into the embarrassing mess it is now.
Our governments do nothing but bring the country into disrepute.
YM-Mundrabilla
Yet the minister responsible took no responsibility and tried to blame everything but himself for the badly botched execution of the thing... as others have already noted we were being told in the months beforehand how marvellous it was going to be because it was all on the interwebs now-days and nobody would have to bother with that awful 'ole pen and paper business. How wrong they were! In the old days the minister responsible would have resigned over the debacle but in Tunbull's cabinet this kind of stuff up is apparently perfectly normal.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
The age of the hardware is largely irrelevant, especially in terms of security. The ABS hardware of any importance wouldn't be 30 years old anyway, what literally MILLIONS of 50Mb HDDs in an array? No. Token ring/bus or Ethernet 10base5 over co-ax? No, no and no. Programming by punch card? Nup.

The real concern is, the ABS doesn't appear to know what happened, a ddos attack when none seems to have been seen. Talks about data concerns, but ddos should not imply risk to data integrity quite the opposite, much of the data simply couldn't have got there in the first place. I don't think we're being told the full story.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Just on the 'political' responsibility, of note is that it was the last ALP government that made the change to the ABS going 'online', not the present LNP, or that under Tony.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Some random thoughts from woodford

A Denial of Service attack is the EASIEST way of bringing a server down, and anyone could bring it about, its not rocket science. To rely on computors for something like the sensis is ridiculos, unless its delibrately spread over a wide period, Note, this was set over a wide period, its just that, it was not advertised as widely as it should have been.. Note: DOS attacks CAN be traced easily, so most of them would be done indirectly so the originator is harder to trace.

I filled out my paper form this morning.................... The computor entry was always going to be a pigs breakfast. Look how much steam us required to run Railpage on its relatively small number of connections.

woodford
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
How wrong they were! In the old days the minister responsible would have resigned over the debacle but in Tunbull's cabinet this kind of stuff up is apparently perfectly normal.
"don_dunstan"
Unfortunately, it was also normal in Rudd's, Gillard's and Howard's cabinets too.  Ministerial responsibility has been dead and buried in this country for years.
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

More than a day later and the Census website is still down. I suspect it won't be long before they throw the towel in and and abandon it altogether.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
More than a day later and the Census website is still down. I suspect it won't be long before they throw the towel in and and abandon it altogether.
Carnot

I really think this is what will happen.
  RustyRick Chief Commissioner

Location: South West Vic
DoS attack or incompetence? Never assume malice when stupidity will suffice. Hanlon's Razor....

Tried to log on at 9pm and then filled out the paper form. I'm very happy to have been given the paper form.

Rick
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
In this particular case the current minister shouldn't be resigning, as I posted earlier, the decisions re this census were made two (actually technically, likely three) governments ago...
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
My local postie is dyslexic, I live at Number 6 and he continually delivers number 4's mail to my letterbox!

As to my census letter and log in ................. who know when it will ever arrive
"Pressman"
All my mail comes to the right number, but get this:
I am currently living a street that is also the name of a suburb here in SA. That suburb has a street with my suburb's name. I constantly get mail from the address with the transposed street/suburb names. I don't seem to have had anything delivered untimely late, or have anything knowingly missing so I currently assume this is a one way error at the mail sorting room.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

In this particular case the current minister shouldn't be resigning, as I posted earlier, the decisions re this census were made two (actually technically, likely three) governments ago...
"Aaron"


According to the ABC news, the Labor party has said the government stated this sensis should be done by computor. Who actually did decide on the computor form. it almost had no hope of succeeding. It needs an awfull lot of steam to handle 3 million concurrent transactions. Load testing with 1 million transactions (as ABS has stated) would NOT be a good enough test, when it would be a moral certainty that everyone would try to get on early in the night.

Another point would be arranging such a large computor arrangement on a single night is simply asking for someone to try a DOS attack. From the ABC news it appears they did understand this as they had some DOS defences and tracking inplace.

woodford
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
And some wish for online voting? Australia cant deliver a census online or manage a ballot based election properly (remember the booth boxes going missing 2012?)  Online, forget it here.

The site is still down and given they have serious security flaws including the use of SHA1 I doubt it will ever come back.

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