Following on from the prime minister’s announcement about the second economic stimulus package yesterday, millions of Australians have rushed to contact Centrelink in a bid to sign up for much-needed welfare payments and enquire about the new measures intended to support the country through these difficult times.
However tens of thousands of those who chose to do so online were left frustrated and disappointed on Monday as the government’s MyGov website crashed, with Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert claiming that a cyber attack was to blame.
“Unfortunately, this morning we also suffered a distributed server attack on our main channels, which highlights other threats still are there,” he said during a press conference.
Robert also pointed out that the crash could also be contributed in part to a huge surge in demand, claiming that the website has risen from usual capacity of around 6,000 people, to a staggering 55,000 users.
He added: “More than 55,000 Australians were trying to access at the same time, as well as the issue we had with the denial of service attack.”
A denial of service attack is a cyber attack in which hackers overwhelm a website with users in a bid to overload it and cause it to crash. The same type of attack was used in 2016 to bring down the Census website.
MyGov and Centrelink saw an increased demand in users today as many Australians have lost their jobs or been stood down as businesses across the country are forced to close their doors, in line with government restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus.
As of midday today, all ‘non-essential’ services, which includes gyms, cinemas, casinos, bars, clubs and restaurants (although these may operate on a take-away basis), have been told to close. Essential services such as supermarkets, pharmacies, retail stores and will remain open.