Telstra denies involvement in Census stuff up

Australia's incumbent telco has denied it was to blame for a router failure in Tuesday night's Census.

In the midst of questioning on how the systems the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) had put in place for Census 2016 managed to collapse under the weight of network traffic, and a so-called denial of service attack, Australian Statistician David Kalisch said a failed router belonged to Telstra.

"There was the geoblocking that didn't work effectively. There was a hardware router failure with a supplier to us," Kalisch said.

"This was coming through our system in terms of the monitoring information and the intelligence that we have through IBM, that they were seeing that through another ISP that wasn't doing the geoblocking, and then the router failure that took place with Telstra."

Telstra has hit back though, issuing a strenuous denial that it would be involved in the Census mess.

"It was not a Telstra problem, it had nothing to do with Telstra," a Telstra spokesperson said in a statement. "They had a router problem. The router in question is not owned or managed by Telstra or operating in a Telstra facility.

"We provided a network link and that has worked perfectly throughout and continues to do so."

Telstra said its chief operating officer Brendon Riley had spoken to Kalisch, who agreed he was incorrect and it was not a Telstra issue.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Cyber Security Alastair MacGibbon said handling denial of service attempts was a normal part of business for the government.

"The vast bulk of those are handled in the normal course of business," he said.

The special adviser said the incident was not a defeat for the ABS.

"The more we talk about it, the more people decide to see if they are better than we are," MacGibbon said.

"In this case what I'd say us, it almost ended up a draw."

"They managed to tip over some systems."

"But there was a lot of conjecture about the ABS Census, and we see the consequences of that conjecture."

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