Australian Census 9 August 2016

Well wasn’t that a fizzer. Now all the media outlets are talking that the census site was hacked, and some are even saying that it was a DOS attack, like they know exactly what hacking is and what a DOS attack actually is.

Sadly it is in my opinion a DOS attack, but a DOS attack that was controlled by me, and every other Australian that were of the belief that the census was to be completed after dinner on Tuesday night. See what happened was some of us 24 million decided to logon to the ABS site all at once and guess what the site fell over. We now hear that the government had taken the site offline while this was happening. I guess we will never know the full truth.

A DOS attack by accident has happened in Australia before, years ago the Big Brother television program site was the subject of a Denial of Service when many Australian television watchers logged onto the Big Brother website and the server overloaded and fell over in other words suffering a Denial of Service Attack.

Unfortunately many cyber experts had accurately predicted the chaos experienced on Census night. Mr Roger Riordan a computer science pioneer in this country had his doubts about the official explanation for the census site crashing. Mr Riordan expressed his doubts about the likelihood of the cyber attacks and said he believed that the “incompetence” of the ABS was the more likely culprit. I agree with Mr Riordan where he says that a “total lack of planning” made the census site crash was inevitable.

According to government documents, the ABS spent more than $9.6 million developing the online census platform and nearly half a million load testing it. But it did not test it on the numbers that tried to access it on Tuesday night. “The Census made a prior announcement that they considered all the possibilities and that they could handle one million submissions an hour and they could cope with that easily.” Doing the basic maths with the population of Australia, this was bound to fall over testing at those numbers.

The other issue with the census debacle was that all Australian households received a one page letter and no instructions and in particular stating that it did not have to be filled out on Tuesday, but we had a number of weeks to complete the census.

Anyway this is a major fail for the ABS and it will be interesting to see what if anything the Prime Minister and his government will now do.