Sunday, March 12, 2017

HACKING?: CRA shuts down online services over potential security risk


CRA shuts down online services over potential security risk

Parts of the Canada Revenue Agency website, including tax filing services, have been offline since Friday after the agency discovered “an Internet vulnerability.”

A CRA spokesperson said the online services had been removed "out of an abundance of caution" and not because of a "successful hack or breach."
A CRA spokesperson said the online services had been removed "out of an abundance of caution" and not because of a "successful hack or breach."  (SEAN KILPATRICK / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO)  
The Canada Revenue Agency has been forced to shut down its online services after discovering they were potentially vulnerable to a security breach.
Sections of the federal agency’s website, including those that allow residents to file their taxes online, were taken down around 1 p.m. Friday. As of press time Saturday evening, they remained offline.
A notice posted to the website soon after the shutdown said the features had been suspended because of “system maintenance.” But a second message posted Saturday afternoon revealed that the CRA had discovered “an Internet vulnerability.” The statement suggested the problem wasn’t unique to the agency and “affects some computer servers used by websites worldwide.”
“Ensuring that Canadians’ personal information is not compromised is a priority for us and we are working to bring our online services back up as soon as possible,” CRA spokesperson David Walters told the Star in an email.
He said the online services had been removed “out of an abundance of caution” and not because of a “successful hack or breach.” He stated that the agency was “not aware of any unauthorized access to taxpayer information.”
Walters could not specify when the services would be restored, saying only that the digital services would “remain offline until the CRA has determined there is no longer a security vulnerability.”
Among the services that were not available on Saturday were Netfile, Efile, and the MyBenefits mobile application. The My Account and My Business Account sections, and the MyCRA app, were also offline.
Walters couldn’t immediately say how many Canadians have already submitted their financial information to the CRA site this year. The tax return deadline is April 30.
The vast majority of Canadians now file their taxes electronically. Last year 84 per cent of people submitted their returns online.
The agency has advised that residents can still fill out their tax forms electronically, but will have to wait until the website is fully operational again to submit them.