Feud over Census 2016 as Turnbull points the finger

By August, 2016 Federal, ICT
Malcolm Turnbull blames IBM for failing to create a an online application for the Census 2016 that could handle the DoS attack on 9th August 2016.

Image: Bidgee

After the controversial debacle of the online Census 2016 security breach where crafty hackers launched a denial-of-service (DoS) attack on the site, government officials have been quick to hurl the blame at the IT contractor for the project, IBM.

The DoS attack on the Census was widely reported, and negative coverage of the event was reinforced by the social media hashtag ‘#censusfail’, sparked by people’s frustration that they couldn’t access the Census website.

The following day, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that it was a malicious attack by hackers on the Census 2016 site that led to it being temporarily closed, but Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull then placed the blame on IBM as it was delegated the responsibility of ensuring that the IT infrastructure that houses the data was safe and secure.

Mr Turnbull told Alan Jones on 2GB on 11th August, 2016 that “there are clearly very big issues, very big issues for IBM the systems provider for the census and for the Australian Bureau of statistics itself”.

“Look to be fair, IBM has done this before, but there has clearly been a failure in the work that was done,” Mr Turnbull said.

Initially, the federal government awarded a contract valued at $9 million to IBM in 2005 to create an online-based Census platform, and awarded it a further $9.6 million in 2014 to host it in a Sydney data centre.

But since the DoS attack, the knives have come out against IBM for the “failure”, as Treasurer Scott Morrison also took to the airwaves on ABC AM, saying that “if there are issues that relate to the service provider in this case then you could expect us to pursue that to the nth degree”.

Short of apologising, IBM said that it “genuinely regrets” the “inconvenience”.

“Our cyber security experts are partnering with national intelligence agencies to ensure the ongoing integrity of the site,” a release from IBM said.

A new release put out by IBM today said the company’s priority continues to be working with its client and stakeholders to ensure that the online Census remains operational and secure.

“We fully appreciate the interest surrounding this important project. However, the Federal Government has indicated that there will be a review undertaken by Alastair MacGibbon, and to ensure we are supporting the integrity of the review process, it would be premature to comment at this stage.”

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