MICK TSIKAS

Census 2016: "Overseas hackers" hit website, says ABS

IT united Australians in frustration, but the Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed the crash of the Census website may have been caused by overseas hackers.

ABC News is this morning reporting that the ABS's David Kalisch -- its most senior statistician -- has said the census website was attacked by hackers four times on Tuesday.

He told ABC Radio on Wednesday morning, "it was quite clear it was malicious".

READ MORE: #CensusFail: Thousands hit by failure of ABS site

News Limited is reporting that IBM Australia was responsible for developing the Census platform, at a cost of $9.6 million.

An Australian IT firm was also paid about $470,000 to test the site.

The census website was hit with issues from Tuesday evening, first with many unable to file their completed applications, then eventually, unable to even view the website.

It is unclear what kind of impact these hacking attempts had on the website, which was widely ridiculed as Australians were faced with error screens on census night.

The Turnbull government said it had become aware the census website had crashed and the minister responsible Michael McCormack has contacted the ABS for a briefing.

While the census is supposed to be a snapshot of the nation tonight, a spokesman for the minister told The Australian if people could not get on the website they had until September 23 to complete the census questions.

A Labor MP meanwhile has called on Assistant Treasurer Michael McCormack -- the minister in charge of the Census -- to stand down.

Mr McCormack said Australians would not be fined for not filling out their Census forms, and that a "thorough process" would ensure noone would be missed by the Census.



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