“Internet vulnerability” behind weekend’s CRA website shutdown

Canadians looking to get a head start on filing their taxes by going online experienced a setback this weekend.

After “becoming aware of an Internet vulnerability that affects some computer servers used by websites worldwide,” the agency shut down its online services, including electronic filing, on Friday afternoon, though service had been restored by Sunday evening.

“Ensuring that your personal information is not compromised is a priority for us,” the CRA wrote in a statement on its website, which has since been taken down but preserved on the CBC website. “At this time, we are not aware that any personal information has been affected; however, we … are taking steps to ensure that all information and systems remain safe.”

Affected services included My Account, My Business Account, Represent a Client, the MyCRA mobile application, the MyBenefits mobile application, Netfile, EFILE and Auto-Fill My Return.

According to a later statement posted on the agency’s website, all digital services had been restored by 5 PM on Sunday, with individuals, businesses, and accountants once again able to file returns and make payments, among other services, through the website.

“We took this action as a precaution, not as the result of a successful hack or breach,” the CRA’s follow-up statement, still accessible at press time, read. “Tax returns filed have continued to be processed normally throughout the digital service interruption. Canadians should not expect a delay in getting their refund. If you question whether or not the CRA has received your return, you and the CRA have certainty on the filing of returns through a confirmation code that is issued only upon successful transmission. If you did receive a code, your return was successfully filed.”

At press time, no details about the security risk had been released aside from the CRA’s statement, which sought to assure Canadians that the agency worked “around the clock” with other government departments to implement a solution that would address the vulnerability.

“We are now confident that the solution has been rigorously and successfully tested and services returned online,” the agency said. “We appreciate that this interruption may have been inconvenient and we thank everyone for their patience.”

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Eric Emin Wood
Eric Emin Wood
Former IT World Canada associate editor turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.

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