OAIC says data safe, calls ABS pull down of Census a 'pro-privacy' precaution

Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim has said he is satisfied that no personal information was exfiltrated from the Census systems during Tuesday night's shemozzle.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Following a briefing from the Australian Signals Directorate, Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim has said the denial of service incident that resulted in the ABS taking down its Census website on Tuesday night did not involve any unauthorised access to personal information.

"I am satisfied that personal information was not inappropriately accessed, lost or mishandled," Pilgrim said in a statement. "The ABS's decision to shut down the website -- to avoid any prospect that the DoS attack could include or otherwise facilitate a data breach -- was, in the circumstances, a pro-privacy precaution."

With Alastair MacGibbon, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Cyber Security, set to conduct a review into what happened on Tuesday, Pilgrim said his office would work with MacGibbon as part of the broader review.

Earlier today while speaking to the ABC, the special advisor refused to give an absolute guarantee of the security of the Census site when it reappears.

"There are no absolutes in cybersecurity, anyone that gives you absolutes is not fully understanding the cybersecurity game," MacGibbon said.

"Everything conceivably, possibly able to be done, will be done to protect it."

Such an absolute guarantee was given by the ABS to the Minister for Small Business Michael McCormack last week.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said today the Census site was not taken down by a DDoS attack.

"There was some anomalous traffic on the night, that appeared to be anomalous, actually it was quite innocent it turned out, but that caused the ABS to take the site down," he said.

"The site was not crashed by denial of service."

The prime minister said he was angry with the failure of the Census 2016 site, and both the ABS and its AU$10 million contractor IBM had very big issues to address.

Just after 3:00pm on Thursday afternoon, the Census site was made available again, but much like on Tuesday night when ZDNet last saw it, the site was refusing to serve images or stylesheets.


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