Tax boss warns outages are 'a fact of modern life'

Tax commissioner Chris Jordan has warned that the technical outages that have caused disruption for businesses are "a fact of modern life" and not going to cease.

In the wake of continuing outages at the Australian Tax Office, Mr Jordan warned businesses and tax professionals to brace for more.

ATO commissioner Chris Jordan at the Vodafone National Small Business Summit.

Photo: Peter Braig

Mr Jordan told the Vodafone National Small Business Summit on Friday cyber security is a concern for all organisations, including the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) but that outages would still happen.

"Systems go down right," he said referring to a power failure disrupting the Reserve Bank of Australia's payment systems last week.

"We had all the refunds pumping out and every second Thursday is pay day so I thought it was going to be impossible," he said. "Telstra goes down, the bank goes down, our system might go offline for a while. This is a fact of modern life that is not going to go away."

Chris Jordan appeared on a panel of regulators at the Vodafone National Small Business Summit.

Photo: Peter Braig

Mr Jordan said businesses and tax agents need to be prepared for when major organisations have outages.

"When I said 'have a plan', I have these agents going ‘I can’t do anything’, well can’t you do some training?," he said.

"There has got to be some sort of back up because we are not the only ones. You need to have some sort of plan in place, 'what do I do if I can’t do my normal stuff?', and there has to be some value add."

Earlier this year the Tax Office revealed more than 20 outages have hit its IT systems in two years, prompting

calls for the government to stop further tech failures at the agency.

In response to a senate estimates question the ATO gave details of six incidents that downed parts of its IT in 2016 before a massive outage barred tax professionals from all of its systems for multiple days in December that year.

The Tax Office also said it deals with about 8000 "potentially malicious exploitation attempts" on its website each week.

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