August 9, 2016
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) says that foreign hackers launched cyber-attacks on the ABS Census website yesterday in an attempt to sabotage its “Census Night.” Apparently, their attacks were successful because the ABS willingly shut down its website to prevent further damage.
The ABS Census Night, or the Census of Population and Housing, is a mandatory event that takes place every five years in Australia. Every Australian must fill in and submit a form detailing who lives in their house and a description of their home and properties.
The most recent Census Night was scheduled for yesterday, August 9, 2016, and the ABS set up a website for Australians who wanted to fill in the census forms online.
According to several reports from Australian news media, the ABS Census website was hit by four major DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks.
ABS said the first three caused minor disruptions, but the fourth was massive enough to prevent Australians from accessing the site.
ABS shut down its own website to prevent further damage
In statements given to the press on the next morning and also published on Twitter (see below), ABS said they shut down the ABS Census website on their own to prevent the attackers from compromising the servers and accessing any sensitive data.
From official ABS statements, it is unclear if the last incident was more than a DDoS attack, and if the attackers tried to breach its servers.