The Census night debacle shows, yet again, that we cannot trust our governments — nor their big business partners, writes contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence.
WE CANNOT TRUST OUR GOVERNMENTS and Tuesday night's Census website crash and lethal multi-hack attacks are proof of that.
So prolific, proficient and injurious were the cyber attacks that it was decided to put the systems into lockdown; to pull the plug.
Whilst the Australian Bureau of Statistics claims there were four successful hacks, Independent Australia understands the bedevilled number is closer to seven.
The hackers are drawn from several international sources, although this contradicts claims the hackers are from a single international source.
The cyber attacks have immediate and serious implications for the overall integrity of Australia's security, defence and intelligence systems, let alone compromising the data, personal names and all informations fed into the Census website, including informations stored before Tuesday night.
GOVERNMENT CANNOT BE TRUSTED
The Government claims all data is intact. The Government cannot be trusted.
Moreover, even if the data is all intact, it may have been copied. The latter is more likely.
If "they" were trophy hackers without malevolent intent, we still can't breathe a sigh of relief.
Either way, prepare for the prime minister's completed Census form to pop up somewhere on a site that elicits great public interest; such as Kim Kardashian's Instagram account, Vladimir Putin's Kremlin website or even Donald Trump's campaign site.
After all, The Donald has clearly learned much from Malcolm Turnbull, since the opening sentence of his website, like Melania's canibalising of one of Michelle Obama's speeches, blatantly plagiarises Turnbull's now infamous mantra: "It's a very exciting time for America." Er Australia, downunder.
We filled in the @ABSCensus tonight online - v easy to do. And so important for planning better Govt services & investment for the future— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) August 9, 2016
But we cannot discount the possibility that the IT sabotages were acts of technological terrorism.
We would be even bigger fools than the Government and ABS take us for if we did not fully comprehend the ramifications of this distinct possibility, perhaps even conducted under a more benign disguise.
Regardless of earlier idiotic boasts and guarantees that our data systems were inpenetratable and personal information was safe, like hundreds, possibly thousands of Australians, including politicians and privacy advocates, I had no intention of completing the Census.
It had been altered by stealth and without public debate, denying us us the ability to remain anonymous whilst compelling us to divulge sensitive personal information.
SHONKY ABS PRAETORIAN GUARD EXPOSED
We cannot be forced to be compliant to the lies and illegalities being promulgated and left largely unchallenged by the revisionist and shonky Praetorian Guard of the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
They have subjugated themselves to the tutelage of the Turnbull Coalition via the sleight of blood-stained hands belonging to the megalomaniacal Attorney-General George Brandis, who has turned bungling and power stockpiling into an artform for which he is without peer.
Here are just a few of his betrayals of office:
- Ignoring the deadly billets-doux of "Mad" Man Haron Monis (Lindt Siege) sent to him seeking advice about writing to the self-proclaimed head of the so-called Islamic State — in the Arab-speaking world known as "Da'esh". If these red flag letters had been acted upon by the AG's Department, it is likely that two Australians, Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson, who died in that horrifying ordeal, would be alive today.
- There was his notorious abrogation of his Separation of Powers edict that we wrote about in 'George Brandis should Braxit': 'His latest insidious assault and indecent interference upon the independence of Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson is an untenable violation of our civic and judicial rights, and a repudiation of that sacrament of democracy — the doctrine of the Separation of Powers between our parliament, executive and judiciary.'
George Brandis should Braxit https://t.co/DpXIPoJI2W A clear-eyed view of this awful Attorney-General— Julian Burnside (@JulianBurnside) June 24, 2016
There was the time-wasting, conflict of interest riddled collision-course appointment of former Northern Territory Chief Justice Brian Martin as royal commissioner, trumpeted by Brandis in the company of Prime Minister Turnbull, and the ensuing humiliating withdrawal of the Letters Patent and Martin's enforced "resignation" a mere four days later.
This time, Turnbull, enslaven to Brandis in turn enslaven to former PM and bestie Tony Abbott, was given a right bollocking by a furious PM, who had spent hours through the night and early morning personally working the phones to crisis manage the outpouring of public anger, impatience and disgust at the Four Corners revelations of child abuse and torture in the Territory's Detention centres, namely Don Dale in particular.
Hours later, a red-faced rheumy and teary-eyed Brandis announced the appointments of two new royal commissioners.
This time the prime minister was noticably absent.
Brandis, a sly apologist at the worst of times, could barely look assembled journalists in the eye as he introduced Social Justice Commissioner (and IA contributor) Mick Gooda and former Justice of the Queensland Supreme Court, Margaret White.
I do not urge you to also boycott the Census, in the belief you are capable of making up your own minds in what is clearly a disastrous multi million dollar scandal of incompetence, bullying and intimidation that seeks to deceive and alienate us from our rights and one another.
Writing for Independent Australia, no less than Bill McLennan, former head of the ABS and Chief Statistician from 1995 to 2000, has exposed the industrial strength deception and lies of the ABS in relation to the 2016 Census.
The irresponsible minister responsible for the Census is the new boy on this block, former Fairfax newspaper editor MP Michael McCormack.
MCCORMACK'S CENSUS QUOTE 'MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING'
This week, his old newspaper, Wagga Wagga's Daily Advertiser quoted Mickey's dismissive response to public concerns about privacy that they were "much ado about nothing" and given his literary bent and the storyline of Shakespeare's play of the same title, Minister Mickey would know that "nothing" was Elizabethan rap for vagina.
Further, McCormack compared filling out the Census with Facebook, but failed to point out that whilst Facebook is voluntary, the Census is compulsory.
McCormack was dumped as assistant Minister for Defence last month on July 19 and on the same day was given the Small Business portfolio to stop him sulking. It took him a week into his portfolio before he bothered getting a briefing on Census 2016.
Even then, as his performance at yesterday's press conference attests, he knows little about his portfolio and even less about what happened Tuesday night.
In fact, the Government is in conflict with the ABS about whether the Census website was, or was not, hacked.
What part of "YES!" doesn't Mickey and his mates understand?
McCormack: this was not an attack— Josh: Butler. (@JoshButler) August 10, 2016
ABS chief statistician David Kalisch: attack attack attack this was an attack pic.twitter.com/cMLjiYHnMG
NEVER BEEN A MORE EXITING TIME TO BE AN AUSTRALIAN
There has never been a more exiting time to be an Australian citizen than filling out the Census.
Tuesday's mega fiasco will undoubtedly provoke thousands of Australians to exit the Census altogether.
And yesterday's vain attempts to troubleshoot the debacle have merely served to further destroy the already diminishing public confidence and trust.
George Brandis has been manipulating and altering the terms, conditions and requirements of the 2016 Census whilst answerable to no-one save his ego. He has been unencumbered and unchecked in his revisionism.
There are a number of aspects about the ABS IT systems that are ominous and warrant further investigation and transparency, not the least being the secrecy surrounding the outsourcing of the $9.6 million contract to IBM.
As I understand it, the hapless David Kalisch was appointed Australia's 15th Australian Statistician/ABS Head on December 11, 2014.
But during the 12 months leading to Mr Kalisch's appointment, Australia was scandalously without a chief statistician. What's going on here? Didn't anyone notice that we had a Census coming up? So who signed off on the Bureau's contracts?
But wait, there's more. I'm getting behind of myself.
Before Mr Kalisch's appointment – and remember, this all happened at a time when the ABS was literally headless – someone gave IBM the multi million dollar Census gig – and on a limited tender no less. How good izzat! You don't even have to lift a finger, except to flip the bird to competitors. You're in like Flynn.
You'd think the governnment and the likes of our attorney-general (guffaw ) would not only wait and seek the wise counsel of the soon to be appointed head, Mr Kalisch, but allow him the courtesy to exercise his experience and responsibilities and call for tenders and preside over the final decision.
On the surface and surfeit of things, it appears that someone wanted to ensure that IBM got the gig in great haste and without too much scrutinty — and before Mr Kalisch sat in the big chair.
Or is it just me?
(Image via anakegoodall.files.wordpress.com)
On November 6 2014, Allie Coyne, much vaunted award-winning editor of iTNews wrote one of her many revealing articles, this time about the little known IBM Census contract.
Two years ago, Allie knew more about the IBM contract and the ABS capabilites than any of the so-called experts expressed yesterday, including the minister, although he hardly counts given his aversion for any briefing. He's apparently in the Nigel Scullion mold when it comes to ministers being disinterested in their portfolios.
How could Allie have known her words would be so prophetic:
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has opted not to build its own private cloud to host the 2016 eCensus, instead awarding a $9.6 million outsourcing contract to existing partner IBM.
Australia’s national statistics agency first offered Australians the option to avoid completing the Census via its traditional paper-based form with a web-based eCensus in 2006.
It partnered with IBM in a $9 million deal in 2005 to develop and support the web-based eCensus application — which is hosted on IBM’s AIX operating system and a WebSphere application server, out of the company's Baulkham Hills, Sydney data centre.
But the agency later virtualised its server infrastructure (with VMware’s vSphere) to create its own private cloud with the intention of hosting the 2016 eCensus.
Running the Census in-house would help address security perceptions arising from the data being handled from a third-party, the ABS said at the time. It said it also made sense to outsource the project to a third-party rather than deal with the one-off high traffic spike internally.
The agency became 95 percent virtualised after cutting 300 physical servers to 70, which hosted 1500 virtual machines.
I don't want to do a Melania, but I have to quote you more of Allie's article:
But the Bureau of Statistics today confirmed it had decided to once again partner with IBM for hosting of the 2016 eCensus in order to ensure the expected high volumes would be properly managed.
The ABS expects the percentage of Australians completing the census online to double in 2016, forecasting a 65 percent take-up compared to 33 percent in 2011. For the first year of the eCensus, 10 percent of Australians submitted their form online.
“The ABS virtualisation project was successfully completed providing a very efficient platform for ongoing ABS operations, including supporting a number of components of the digital Census in 2016,” a spokesperson said.
“However, due to the peak volume of the online form during Census 2016 it was decided that contracting IBM would provide the best value for money and management of operational risk.”
Duncan Young, head of the 2016 Census within the ABS, said IBM had been contracted through a limited tender after proving it could offer the best value for money.
“This contract capitalises on the investment in the existing online Census system,” Young said in a statement to iTnews.
“Our existing solution has shown itself to be robust, and can be expanded to manage increased volumes. Using a known platform will reduce the risk of costly development and integration issues.”
The IBM contract will expire in October 2016.
See what I mean? Now, given that Australians have until September 23rd to fill out the Census and given that IBM's contract expires shortly afterwards, what happens then, given that the Government, the ABS and IBM in particular bear responsibility for the overal dismal performance and operations failure.
Surely IBM won't have its contract renewed !
Last week, the Financial Review's Bryce Corbett wrote about* an astonishing tweet that has since been redacted by IBM executive Philip Nye a self-described 'IBM Worldwide Security Solution Architect.'
'The good folk at IBM went to ground Thursday after one of their employees broke ranks to suggest the upcoming Census was an online privacy Armageddon just waiting to happen.'
So here we have a days old prophecy – out of the mouths of an IBM techiebabe himself.
Sounds like Mr Nye didn't have much faith in his own company's product — or eCensus.
I've checked out Mr Nye's LinkedIn page and yep, sounds like he's the man:
'As part of the Worldwide Security SWAT team, I design customer solutions around IBM's Security Systems products. In this position, I have lead technical engagements in Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, USA, and Central America achieve successful outcomes in pre-sales, post-sales and support situations. I am an expert in translating customer business requirements to technology solutions, and ensuring product development embrace these requirements in future offerings.'
What's not to love? So where was Mr Nye when the lights went out Census night?
I am not the only person interested in our national security and privacy that questions the wisdom of outsourcing our data systems to the likes of IBM.
We ought to be capable of building and installing our own in-house systems. Indeed we are quite capable of doing both and it is offensive to our innovative and energetic tech industries to suggest otherwise.
The debacle of the Census crash and burn is proof that outsourcing to a second party compromises not only the individual — but the nation as a whole.
Multinationals as well as governments are notorious for unscrupulous and expedient misconduct, corruption and criminal activities, as we have so often highlighted within the pages of IA.
Take IBM – International Business Machines — and its repulsive criminal dealings with Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich/Drittes Reich/Nazi Party.
"Big Blue" is still the internationally renowned nickname for IBM, because of its blue and iconic logo that ranks up there in recognition factor alongside Coca-Cola and Pal/Pedigree dog food.
Of course, IBM was not the only company, American or otherwise, that worked with the Nazis and made huge profits out of wholesale mass murder, but it is a tragic, lurid and indisputable fact that their data retention machines of the day, especially the IBM punch card sorting/cross indexing system directly identified and catalogued Jews and others, before and after death.
They were targeted, identified, demonised, dehumanised, exterminated and despised by toxic Nazi ideological fundamentalism whose virulent strains even today, still fueled with fear, loathing and racism, thrive in everyday manifestations throughout the world and in Australia too, despite our own peoples drawn from throughout the globe.
In 2001, an astonishing book by Edwin Black, the American investigative journalist, entitled IBM and the Holocaust – The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation was published by Crown and generated international but wary interest.
How the investigation and book came about is as poignant as Black's writings. Of course, it ignited mixed reviews.
His parents were both Holocaust survivors and, whilst accompanying them in 1993 to the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, as sometimes happens with kismet, Black was forever transfixed by this difficult muse.
In his foreword, published by the New York Times, he writes:
There, in the very first exhibit, an IBM Hollerith D-11 card sorting machine—riddled with circuits, slots, and wires—was prominently displayed. Clearly affixed to the machine's front panel glistened an IBM nameplate.
It has since been replaced with a smaller IBM machine because so many people congregated around it, creating a bottleneck.
The exhibit explained little more than that IBM was responsible for organizing the census of 1933 that first identified the Jews. IBM had been tight-lipped about its involvement with Nazi Germany. So although 15 million people, including most major Holocaust experts, have seen the display, and in spite of the best efforts of leading Museum historians, little more was understood about this provocative display other than the brief curator's description at the exhibit and a few pages of supportive research.
I still remember the moment, staring at the machine for an hour. I turned to my mother and father who accompanied me to the museum that day and promised I would discover more.
IBM's Hollorith Machine, used by the Nazis and nicknamed the 'Death Calculator'
I was haunted by a question whose answer has long eluded historians. The Germans always had the lists of Jewish names. Suddenly, a squadron of grim-faced SS would burst into a city square and post a notice demanding those listed assemble the next day at the train station for deportation to the East. But how did the Nazis get the lists? For decades, no one has known. Few have asked.
The answer: IBM Germany's census operations and similar advanced people counting and registration technologies. IBM was founded in 1898 by German inventor Herman Hollerith as a census tabulating company. Census was its business. But when IBM Germany formed its philosophical and technologic alliance with Nazi Germany, census and registration took on a new mission. IBM Germany invented the racial census—listing not just religious affiliation, but bloodline going back generations. This was the Nazi data lust. Not just to count the Jews—but to identify them.
People and asset registration was only one of the many uses Nazi Germany found for high-speed data sorters. Food allocation was organized around databases, allowing Germany to starve the Jews. Slave labor was identified, tracked, and managed largely through punch cards. Punch cards even made the trains run on time and cataloged their human cargo. German Railway, the Reichsbahn, Dehomag's biggest customer, dealt directly with senior management in Berlin. Dehomag maintained punch card installations at train depots across Germany, and eventually across all Europe.
IBM's machines were essential to the Nazis evil plans, wrote Black:
...When the Reich needed to mount a systematic campaign of Jewish economic disenfranchisement and later began the massive movement of European Jews out of their homes and into ghettos, once again, the task was so prodigious it called for a computer. But in 1933, no computer existed.
When the Final Solution sought to efficiently transport Jews out of European ghettos along railroad lines and into death camps, with timing so precise the victims were able to walk right out of the boxcar and into a waiting gas chamber, the coordination was so complex a task, this too called for a computer. But in 1933, no computer existed.
However, another invention did exist: the IBM punch card and card sorting system—a precursor to the computer. IBM, primarily through its German subsidiary, made Hitler's program of Jewish destruction a technologic mission the company pursued with chilling success. IBM Germany, using its own staff and equipment, designed, executed, and supplied the indispensable technologic assistance Hitler's Third Reich needed to accomplish what had never been done before—the automation of human destruction. More than 2,000 such multi-machine sets were dispatched throughout Germany, and thousands more throughout German-dominated Europe. Card sorting operations were established in every major concentration camp.
Black coherently argues that Hitler's 'quest was greatly enhanced and energized by the ingenuity and craving for profit of a single American company and its legendary, autocratic chairman. That company was International Business Machines, and its chairman was Thomas J. Watson.'
IBM'S THOMAS WATSON SR WITH BUSINESS BUDDY ADOLF HITLER
A wider shot of Adolf Hitler in Berlin with IBM's Thomas Watson Sr to his right. The photograph may have been been taken in 1937. Watson was also president of the International Chamber of Commerce and the other men in the photo are believed to be members of the ICC Board.
In no way do I or Independent Australia make any imputation whatever against contemporary IBM and its dealings with the ABS.
OUTSOURCING OUR DATA — ENOUGH TO GIVE YOU THE ..ITs!
What I do say is this. Information is power. And personal information is greater power.
Neither IBM nor the ABS or our Government(s) can be trusted with our personal data.
Never mind about the world for a sec, what about us — we the people ?
We deserve better from our Governments and institutions.
We don't need to outsource our conscience and our refugees and asylum seekers and their babies and children.
We don't need to outsource our call centres or our ABS IT systems.
We don't need to outsource our indigenous children – or any children of whatever colour – to thuggee detention centres.
Instead, maybe it's time to outsource our prime minister and Governments.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License
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