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Sunday, April 30th, 2017

Storage

Monday's crash was caused by hardware failure, not cyberattack, says Australian tax agency

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The crash that brought down the internal systems and customer service websites of the Australian Taxation Office last Monday was caused by a hardware failure and did not relate to any external factors, according to a statement issued by the agency today.

The agency says ato.gov.au  has been live since yesterday (Dec. 13) afternoon and the case management systems are back up and running.. The links from the website to other impacted systems will be restored as these come back online, it said. The agency is working towards bringing the Tax Agent Portal back online later today and will confirm when it is functional. 

The ATO clarified that it experienced a failure in its storage hardware supplied by Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The agency explained that primary back-up systems, that should have kicked-in immediately, were also affected.

“We understand this is the first time this problem has been encountered anywhere in the world and we are working with our partners at Hewlett Packard Enterprise to determine the underlying cause. While these investigations are ongoing, we have had to implement alternative recovery procedures that took longer to complete,” said the ATO statement.

No data loss

Australian media reported that a petabyte – a  million gigabytes – of data were lost during the crash but the ATO clarified that the petabyte of data referred to in media reports relates to storage capacity, which includes not only data but applications and systems as well. This figure does not relate to data impacted by the outages.

“While we experienced some data corruption, we are in the process of fully restoring this data from back-up. No data has been lost,” said the agency.

In a statement posted on the ATO website immediately after the crash on Monday morning, ATO Chief Information Officer Steve Hamilton said that no taxpayer information had been compromised.

Hamilton said that specialist engineers have been working since Mondaynight with ATO staff to rectify the outages.These outages relate to a new hardware storage solution that was upgraded in November 2015, he said.

Hamilton added that after full restoration, investigations will continue on the cause of the outage to ensure we treat the underlying issues and determine why the switch-over to back-up systems failed on this occasion.