Australian Bureau of Statistics subject to "growing number" of cyber attacks

Claims all attempts have been unsuccessful

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has denied a media report alleging the government agency had been subject to security breaches.

In an e-mailed statement, ABS said the government agency has seen attacks increase over the recent few years but none of these attempts were successful.

A report in the Australian Financial Reviews on Friday claimed ABS had been “the subject of numerous attacks over the past four years.” According to the report, “the breaches” revealed an ongoing attempt to hack sensitive data contained in Ausstats, which houses key macro-economic data for the country.

However, ABS claims none of the attempts have been successful.

“As is the case with a number of other government agencies, the ABS has experienced a growing number of attacks by cyber criminals over recent years. To date none of these attempts has been successful,” ABS said in statement. “Hackers have not gained access to market sensitive data or any other confidential information held by the Bureau.”

The statement added all cyber attacks “have been dealt with through normal procedure, which includes providing reports of significance to Defence Signals Directorate's Cyber Security Operation Centre.”

ABS reiterated it continues to monitor the security environment to assess the effectiveness of security controls deployed and takes data security seriously.

“The ABS engages with government security bodies and the broader Security Industry to ensure that the security of ABS data is maintained," said the statement. "The ABS has an annually reviewed Agency Security Plan which includes testing conducted by an external security specialist.”

ABS is the latest government body to admit it has been a target of attacks. Last month, Reserve Bank of Australia said that “on occasion,” it had been a target of cyber attacks.

However the central bank claimed that it had “comprehensive security arrangements in place” that helped isolate those attacks and ensured that viruses have not been spread across the bank's network or systems.

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2 Comments

JonBays

1

All federal government departments with a dot gov dot au online presence should assume they have been breached and be carefully analysing their security event monitoring systems to remove any malware as soon as its possible to detect and before it actually exfiltrates any data. It is not plausible to deny that you have been breached anymore unfortunately.

FedSec Colleague

2

@JonBays - I disagree. Being probed by a trivially easy to obtain port scanner does not, IMHO, constitute a breach, any more so than being brushed against in a crowded bus constitutes an attempted mugging. The ABS response is a fact based, accurate counter to an alarmist report written by an lazy wannabe journo.

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