The early closure of the Census’ website on the night of 9 August 2016 has sparked a national discussion about cyber security, cybercrime and privacy.
The Australian Privacy Commissioner has made a statement regarding the failure of the Census website:
He said “I am aware of the denial of service attacks on the Census 2016 website last night and my staff have been in contact with ABS this morning.
Based on these reports I am commencing an investigation of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in regards to these cyber attacks, under the Australian Privacy Act 1988. My first priority is to ensure that no personal information has been compromised as a result of these attacks.”
Earlier in the day on 9 August he discussed census privacy issues on the ABC including the security of collected information:
EMILY BOURKE: If we look at the integrity of the security of the new digital platform for the census, are you confident in the ABS’s ability to adequately encrypt that very personal data?
TIMOTHY PILGRIM: From the briefings my staff have received, I am advised that the ABS have put in place the appropriate level of standards to secure that information, and those standards meet the standards that are applied across all government agencies. So…
EMILY BOURKE: But no system is bulletproof?
TIMOTHY PILGRIM: Exactly, no system is, but we need to remember that they are putting in place the best security systems that are available to them at the moment. That’s what they have advised my office on. And we would need to hold them to account on that if something went wrong.
Austrac sets up a cyber team
Separately (and coincidentally on the same day) Austrac announced that it has established a new cyber team dedicated to identifying online terrorism financing activities, money laundering and financial fraud.
The new cyber team will use financial and cyber intelligence to investigate online payment platforms and financial cybercrime to crack down on money-laundering and criminal networks.
The use of fraudulent identities continues to be a key enabler of serious and organised crime and terrorism.
The agency will also work with iDcare, Australia and New Zealand’s national identity support service, to target job recruitment scams that organised criminal syndicates use to recruit innocent people as money mules.
The team will also work with the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) Joint Management Group (JMG) to identify patterns and trends that could indicate large-scale financial scams or their methodology.