Millions of Australians were expected to complete the census online last night, but when the website crashed thousands were left scratching their heads, with many taking to Twitter to express their frustration under the hashtag #CensusFail.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) initially blamed the outage on the high volume of traffic to the site, but this morning revealed as many as four alleged attacks by overseas hackers left them with no choice but to shut it down.
“It was an attack,” chief statistician David Kalisch told ABC NewsRadio early this morning.
“It was quite clear it was malicious,” he said, adding that throughout the day the website was targeted multiple times.
Just hours later, however, Census minister Michael McCormack has fuelled even more confusion by denying an “attack” or “hack” occurred.
Hear Mia Freedman talk all things Census fail on Mamamia Out Loud
“This was not an attack. Nor was it a hack but rather, it was an attempt to frustrate the collection of Bureau of Statistics Census data,” he said while fronting the press shortly before 11am.
“ABS Census security was not compromised. I repeat, not compromised and no data was lost.”
McCormack said the decision to shut down services was prompted in order to protect the online forms submitted before a hardware failure, which caused a router to become overloaded.