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Underscoring the severity of the Heartbleed bug affecting huge swaths of the Internet, hackers exploited the vulnerability to steal taxpayer data for at least 900 Canadian citizens and an unknown number of businesses, officials in that country warned Monday morning.
Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) officials said they removed public access to online tax services last Tuesday, a day after the catastrophic defect in the widely used OpenSSL cryptography library surfaced. But by then it was too late. Hackers casing online CRA services were nonetheless able to exploit the OpenSSL flaw, which makes it possible to pluck private encryption keys, passwords, and other sundry sensitive data out of the private computer memory of servers running vulnerable versions of the open-source library.
“Regrettably, the CRA has been notified by the Government of Canada’s lead security agencies of a malicious breach of taxpayer data that occurred over a six-hour period,” Canadian officials disclosed in a blog post published Monday morning. “Based on our analysis to date, Social Insurance Numbers (SIN) of approximately 900 taxpayers were removed from CRA systems by someone exploiting the Heartbleed vulnerability. We are currently going through the painstaking process of analyzing other fragments of data, some that may relate to businesses, that were also removed.”
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