Major airport security outage put nation at risk
AUSTRALIA'S national security was put at risk during an Australian Border Force (ABF) security outage which brought international airports to a standstill across the country, newly-released documents reveal.
The massive outage in April resulted in a risk to the nation's border protection, migration systems and trade enforcement laws according to a "Major Incident Report" obtained under Freedom of Information (FOI) laws by News Corp.
The Home Affairs IT systems breakdown also interfered with a major law enforcement incident investigation which was underway at one of the country's international airports.
"Actions for this incident needed to be suspended as this outage limited the ongoing investigations," the documents revealed.
Tens of thousands of people across the country were caught up in the havoc caused by the outage at 5.58am on April 29.
Multiple systems, including the Smart Gate facial recognition cameras, were down for almost seven hours bringing immigration to a standstill and forcing all passengers to be processed manually.
The Department of Home Affairs classified the outage as a Priority 1 incident compromising its "Cargo, Traveller and other Border Systems".
Documents released under FOI about the system failure showed: "Processing of international cargo was halted due to redirecting ABF resources to process passengers manually for the duration of the outage".
Passport control machines failed at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane international airports causing massive queues.
Angry passengers at the time took to social media to vent their frustration over the systems failures which affected both inbound and outbound flights.
The queues were so long ABF officials had to roll out emergency water supplies to keep passengers hydrated.
"Sydney airport you should be ashamed," said one angry passenger on a social media account.
"7am, all the international flights are landing, the ePassport gates aren't working and 2000 people are jammed into your poxy arrivals hall."
The ABF has previously reportedly refused to explain what caused the failure at passport control gates that led to significant delays at airports.
The report said it was a "hardware failure" - specifically a Line Card on Network Distribution Switch.
A second incident on July 15 also caused massive delays as the Smart Gates for departures were affected for almost six-and-a-half hours.
All departure gates at international airports around the country were again affected impacting the ability of ABF officials to check visa applications and other passenger status details.
A "Major Incident Review" report released under FOI said the system failure "caused severe delays in passenger processing" and was due to a systems issue caused by an "authorised change" causing a communication device to fail.