IBM apologizes for Australian e-census bungle, setting off blame game

Tue Oct 25, 2016 5:43am EDT
 
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By Byron Kaye

SYDNEY (Reuters) - International Business Machines Corp apologized to Australia on Tuesday for what the government has described as a "malicious" cyber-attack that shut down a national census, but blamed two domestic internet providers for the security lapse.

IBM was the lead contractor for the five-yearly August 9 household survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) which went offline that day after four distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, caused by the website being flooded with clicks.

The breach embarrassed a government that has sought to impress voters with its cybersecurity credentials.

At a Senate inquiry into the matter, IBM Australia and New Zealand Managing Director Kerry Purcell said he apologized "unreservedly" for the inconvenience and added that he is negotiating a settlement with the government for failing to fulfill the A$10 million ($7.6 million) contract.

Purcell also said IBM was helping a police investigation, and declined to say who he suspected was behind the attack.

But he went on say that attacks were launched through a router in Singapore, and blamed Australian ISP Vocus Communications Ltd, a subcontractor of Nextgen Networks Pty Ltd, for failing to shut it down.

"We had repeated assurances from the ISP that the appropriate protocol was in place," Purcell told the inquiry.

"The primary root cause was through a router that was outside Australia."   Continued...

 
The logo of Dow Jones Industrial Average stock market index listed company IBM (IBM) is seen on a computer screen in Los Angeles, California, United States, April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson - RTX2E4AL