Hacking attack on website as Bulgaria’s 2021 census gets underway

A hacking attack disrupted the website of Bulgaria’s 2021 census as the online phase of the process began on September 7, the National Statistical Institute said.

“We expect such attacks and we have taken action. This attack is a good test of the security system we have built. Most likely, such attacks are not even malicious, but an opportunity for someone to show off their ability to fight such systems,” the National Statistical Institute said.

From September 7 until midnight on September 17, residents of Bulgaria may participate in the census by filling in an online form.

The second stage is from September 18 to October 3, when enumerators will visit households, between 8am and 8pm.

A warning has been issued that enumerators will not visit homes between September 7 and 17, and anyone claiming to be one during this time is likely a fraudster.

Failure to participate in the census means a fine of 160 leva (about 80 euro).

The deputy head of the National Statistical Institute, Diana Yancheva, said that everyone in Bulgaria who usually resides in the country must participate in the census. “We do not care whether they are Bulgarian or foreign citizens, they will have to be counted,” she said.

Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Atanas Pekanov called on the public to participate in the census online, as this was easier and safer given the Covid-19 pandemic.

Enumerators are obliged to visit every household, even those who have participated online. However, such visits may be avoided by posting on your door the unique 15-digit code that the system will generate when the electronic form is filled in correctly.

You should have your Bulgarian identity documents to hand when you prepare to participate online. To register, you must have a valid e-mail address, and provide your personal identity number, and the number and date of issue of your identity document.

You will receive a verification link at the e-mail address, which – as often happens in such cases – can go directly to the spam folder, so if you do not see it, check there as well.

The NSI said that the Census 2021 page can be accessed using a desktop or laptop computer, tablet or smartphone.

“We recommend using the latest versions of Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Mozilla Firefox. (Please note that Internet Explorer is not among the recommended browsers.),” the NSI said.

After completing each section, you need to click the “Next” button to proceed.

The system will warn you if you have an incomplete question or have placed an unrecognised symbol in your answer. In this case, you need to go back to make a correction.

At any time before you receive the unique final code, you can return to an already completed section and edit the information in it. However, once you receive the code, the card is locked for edits and you will now only be able to read the information in it, but not change it.

According to the NSI, it should take an average of 20 minutes to complete the form. This may be done in different sessions, but if a page is left for 30 minutes without any activity, the connection will be cut off and logging in again with the e-mail address and password will be required.

The person filling in the form should indicate everyone normally living in the household, both those physically in it as of September 7, and those who for some reason are at another address in the country or abroad. Those temporarily in the household on September 7 should also be included.

Children studying elsewhere should also be included in the household census form. The same applies to students who travel daily to another locality but continue to live in the family home. However, students who are already studying in another locality and usually live there in a residence or dormitory should not be included.

People who reside in another locality in Bulgaria or abroad for a period longer than 12 months should not be included in the household census form. Those who left before September 7 2021 and intend to be absent for more than 12 months are not included.

Children of separated parents are counted in the household of the parent with whom they spend the most time time. If the shared time between the two parents is the same, then the child should be counted wherever he or she was during the critical moment of the census, midnight on September 7 2021.

Those who have resided in different settlements in the past 12e months are counted where they have spent most of their time.

The census includes only children and babies born before or on September 6 2021. Those born after this date are not included.

There are some questions that it is not compulsory to answer. These include ethnicity, mother tongue and religion.

The online census form may be reached via https://www.e-census2021.bg/smartcensus/landing

(Photo: Marco Michelini/freeimages.com)

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