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Australian Bureau of Statistics denies hacking report

A login isn't a 'hack' states stat specialist

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The Australian Bureau of Statistics has been forced, by dint of a misreading of 'attack statistics', to deny that hackers (including the ubiquitous Chinese variety) have accessed pre-release sensitive data such as unemployment or inflation rates.

Last week, the Australian Financial Review offered its readers a tale titled Cyber attacks hit Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The Register notes today's statement from the Bureau, published on its Website:

ABS responds to "Cyber attacks hit statistics bureau" (The Australian Financial Review, 26 April 2013 pg1)

Contrary to your article, 'Cyber attacks hit statistics bureau' (page 1, AFR 26 April 2013), there have been no successful attempts to gain access to market sensitive or other confidential data held by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The "AUSSTATS" database referred to in your article is a source of publicly available statistics. It does not hold any confidential data.

The "successful" attacks referred to in the article relate to external users attempting to connect to publicly available ABS services. The incidents were detected by the ABS due to the large number and random nature of the connection attempts. The attempts logged as successful related to valid connections. Attempted connections to the ABS homepage during this incident were reported as being successful by the ABS Security monitoring tool. These attempts posed no threat to the security of ABS data.

The AFR mentions the possibility that ABS user accounts had been compromised and used to attack ABS systems. The incident referred to in the AFR report relates to authorised users of ABS provided external services incorrectly entering their password when trying to access the system.

There's more, but the main point will certainly be understood.

Not only this, but the Fin followed up its original story with the same financial markets specialist portentously huffing that the Australian public has the “right to know” how much information has been “stolen”. It seems that in fact we do know: none at all. ®

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