Network Security, Threat Management

Overpopulated with traffic: Australian online census swamped by DDoS attack

The website hosting the online form for Australia's national census was brought down by a series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on Tuesday, temporarily preventing some of the country's citizens from participating in the population survey, which takes place every five years.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the ABS website and its online 2016 census form initially withstood a barrage of three separate DDoS assaults, but a fourth – beginning just after 7:30 p.m. local time – caused major disruptions. The ABS' latest update – posted over 24 hours later – said the agency would only restore the survey once it could assure safe, robust service. It also claimed the most recent attack was exacerbated by a surge in legitimate traffic, a hardware failure and a false positive during system monitoring.

Two million forms were submitted before the site became unresponsive, and no data was compromised, the ABS noted.

UPDATE 8/12: The ABS restored its online census form at 2.30 p.m. local time on Thursday, Aug. 11.

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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