Computer experts known as “ethical hackers” have joined to protect future censuses.
The last national survey suffered from an online blunder that millions of people were locked out of their websites.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has shut down the site for fear of being hacked.
This failure raised serious concerns about the quality of the information collected in 2016 and raised questions about the reliability of the data.
Australian statistician David Gruen does not want to be hit twice by lightning.
He hired a team of ethical hackers called the Black Turtleneck Youth to perform pressure tests on the system.
They were told to do the worst and report their findings.
ABS also works with cybersecurity agencies to protect against denial of service and ransomware attacks.
Dr. Gruen said his team was as ready as possible.
“As evidenced by experience, it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk of a cyberattack, so never say it,” he told Canberra reporters on Friday.
“But everyone who is clearly working on the census is keenly aware of what happened in 2016.”
Many reports were written in the aftermath of the “census failure” and ABS was handed 29 recommendations.
“We have implemented all of these recommendations,” said Dr. Gruen.
Cyber attacks can come from sophisticated state actors and amateur keyboard warriors.
“We need to be prepared for everything we think would be a great idea if they could get into the system, including the children in their parents’ basements,” Dr. Gruen said.
“We need the highest degree of protection possible.
“We are as ready as we can, but after this is over, we will sleep better on August 12th.”
Deputy Treasury Secretary Michael Soccer said unprecedented resources have been invested in cybersecurity.
Authorities are also preparing to conduct a national survey during the coronavirus era.
With people in quarantine, emergency response plans are being implemented for state-wide blockades and regional restrictions.
Travelers returning alone are encouraged to complete the census online. This includes Olympic athletes and officers who returned to Australia after the Tokyo Olympics.
“Probably it will take a while because they have little else to do,” Dr. Gruen said.
ABS aims for an overall response rate of over 95%, which is very high compared to other countries.
Dr. Gruen is particularly keen to improve the accuracy of counting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, especially in the Northern Territory, after the last obvious omission.
July 4: Launch of advertising campaign
July 5: Census phone line opens to answer questions
July 28: Census online form opens
August 1: Households begin receiving instructions with an email outlining the process for ordering paper forms and logging on to online surveys
Australian Associated Press
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