People queue for access to a Centrelink Service Centre in Sydney. Picture: AAP Image/James Gourley
People queue for access to a Centrelink Service Centre in Sydney. Picture: AAP Image/James Gourley

Centrelink chaos after MyGov cyber attack

The MyGov site crashed after suffering a cyber attack as hundreds of thousands of Australians desperate for income relief flocked to the website.

Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert said during a press conference this afternoon that the website suffered a "distributed denial of service attack" from an unknown party.

"MyGov has not been offline. It simply suffered from a distributed denial of service attack this morning and currently it's processing 55,000 concurrent users which means the 55,000 and first user will not be able to access it," he told reporters.

"This morning was a challenge for us."

A distributed denial of service attack is where hackers overwhelm an online system with traffic in order to disrupt services.

This is the same type of cyber attack that crashed the Census website in 2016.

Mr Robert said they are working to increase the amount of users that can be on the MyGov website at one time.

This came after the government essentially announced a sweeping shutdown to control the spread of the coronavirus.

 

Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP
Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP

 

The unemployment rate has been tipped to rise to 7 per cent by the end of the year but many believe these figures are modest as it was revealed last night pubs, clubs and even gyms would close from today, leaving a huge workforce in limbo.

Before the network of Centrelink outlets opened this morning lines of 100 metres and more were spotted in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide at least, filled with sudden job-hunters eager to get their hands on the stimulus relief package.

Meanwhile, social media users are reporting site freezes on MyGov and it was confirmed the site had crashed this morning.

"There is unprecedented demand for the service right now, but Australians need to be patient. Try logging on later today or even tomorrow," Government Services Minister Stuart Robert said according to the ABC.

Services Australia released a statement through Facebook in attempt to calm anxious job hunters and update the population on how the payments will be processed.

"If you're already getting a payment that is eligible for the Economic Support Payment or the Coronavirus Supplement, you do not need to do anything, you'll get payment automatically," the post said. "Please do not call or visit us."

 

 

Services Australia said it was experiencing "very high demand" but a lot of queries involved the same questions, so pleaded with those unsure about the payments to visit servicesaustralia.gov.au/COVID19.

"If you don't currently get an income support payment and you need help because you've lost your job or had your income reduced, please start your claim online" the Facebook post said.

"If you need to provide proof of identity and you're in self-isolation or feeling unwell we can do this over the phone - but please defer until later if you can. We urge you not to come into our service centres if you're unwell.

"We're working hard to respond here so please understand it will take a little longer than usual."

IMPORTANT UPDATE: We’re experiencing very high demand across all services. We’re getting lots of questions about...

Posted by Services Australia on Sunday, 22 March 2020

 

As the number of confirmed Australian cases rise exceed 1600, the government has added a new raft of stimulus measures to the first $17.6 billion package announced 10 days ago, taking the country's total stimulus to $189 billion - or 9.7 per cent of GDP.

Here's what you need to know.

 

SUMMARY OF NEW PACKAGE:

• Coronavirus Supplement: $550 per fortnight payment for recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit for the next six months

• Early access to superannuation for struggling Australians

• Temporary reduction of minimum super drawdown rates

• Extra $750 for some households, including those on social security and veteran income support and eligible concession card holders

• Reduction of deeming rates by a further 0.25 percentage points

• Small and medium businesses with turnover under $50 million, along with not-for-profit charities, will be eligible for a tax-free cash payment of up to $100,000

• Support for airlines

• Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses

• Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme: Government to guarantee half a bank's loan to a small or medium enterprise impacted by the virus

 

BENEFIT RECIPIENTS

Under its coronavirus plan, the government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight.

That payment will go to existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit for the next six months.

Eligible income support recipients will receive the full amount of the $550 Coronavirus supplement on top of their payment each fortnight.

Services Australia will also expand its staff to 5000 to help the delivery of the new measures.

And social security and veteran income support recipients and eligible concession card holders will also receive an extra $750 payment - on top of the $750 payment announced on March 12.

This new payment will be made automatically from July 13, and around 5 million Aussies will benefit, including pensioners.

The original payment will also occur automatically from March 31.

The government is also reducing social security deeming rates by a further 0.25 per cent on top of deeming rate changes made during the first package.

From May 1, the lower deeming rate will be 0.25 per cent and the upper deeming rate will be 2.25 per cent.

The change will benefit around 900,000 income support recipients, including age pensioners.

 

SUPERANNUATION

Individuals struggling as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak will also be able to access some of their super early.

Eligible Aussies will be able to access up to $10,000 in 2019-20, and a further $10,000 in 2020-21.

To take advantage of the offer, you will need to apply online through myGov before July 1.

You won't need to pay tax on released super, and the money withdrawn will not affect Centrelink or Veterans' Affairs payments.

The government is also temporarily reducing superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account based pensions and similar products by 50 per cent for 2019-20 and 2020-21.

It is designed to benefit retirees by providing them with more flexibility regarding how they manage their superannuation assets.

 

BUSINESSES

The government is providing up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium sized businesses and not‑for-profits - including charities - that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000.

The purpose of this payment is to boost cashflow and allow organisations to keep the lights on - and keep employees on the books.

Under the scheme, which builds upon the first stimulus package, employers will receive a payment equal to 100 per cent of their salary and wages withheld (up from 50 per cent), with the maximum payment being increased from $25,000 to $50,000.

In addition, the minimum payment is being increased from $2000 to $10,000. The payment will be available from April 28.

By linking the payments to business to staff wage tax with holdings, the government is hoping businesses will be encouraged to hold on to more of their workers.

The payments are tax free, there will be no new forms to fill out, and payments will flow automatically through the ATO to small to medium businesses with an annual turnover of less than $50 million that employ staff.

And from July 28, eligible businesses will receive an additional payment equal to the total of all of the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments received.

Another measure is the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme, which will see the government guarantee 50 per cent of new loans issued by eligible lenders to SMEs.

And the government is also temporarily increasing the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive.

The package also includes temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent.

The Corporations Act 2001 will be amended to provide temporary and targeted relief for companies to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the coronavirus.

Originally published as Centrelink chaos after MyGov cyber attack



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