Is Your Census Data Safe?

At 7:55pm last last the Australian Bureau of Statistics shut down the Australian Census website, revealing this morning that the move was a precaution against a series of denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Two million Census forms were submitted before the site closed, which raises the question — is your data safe?

The official Census Australia twitter account wants to reassure everyone that not only is your data safe, but there won’t be any fines imposed for not completing the form on Census day.

So what is a DDoS attack, exactly? For starters, here’s what one looks like (it’s actually kind of amazing):

It’s a simple concept — attackers overwhelm a site with traffic in an attempt to make it crash. In this case, the ABS believes the attackers are from “overseas” rather than the millions of Australians heading online to complete the survey. Finding the source of the attack is a difficult task, since most DDoS attacks are produced by thousands of bots from IPs all over the world.

So according to the information we currently have, with this being cited as a DDoS attack and not a data breach, what the ABS are saying about the safety of your information at this stage is accurate — it’s no less secure than it would have already been.

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