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Cyber Attack Blamed As 42 Million Phone Calls Flood Centrelink

The Department of Human Services is investigating an extraordinary number of unanswered calls to its Centrelink service. It believes some were part of a cyber attack and others caused by apps that make repeated calls every few seconds for many hours.

The department has revealed that no fewer than 42 million calls had received an engaged tone when attempting to contact Centrelink from June last year to April 2017.

This was a huge increase on the previous 12 months, when 29 million calls were blocked, and in 2014-15, when just 22 million callers were told lines were busy.

The department has asked Telstra to investigate how many of the latest calls were actually frustrated users just trying to get through. It suspects that smartphone apps that automatically redial a number every few seconds may have been the cause of many of the engaged signal figures.

It also says there were “undoubtedly” cyber attack factors involved, apparently intended to flood the phone lines to make them unusable. The department did not elaborate.

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