Canada halts online tax returns in wake of Heartbleed

Canada Revenue Agency anticipates restoring services by weekend

Canada Revenue Agency has halted online filing of tax returns by the country's citizens following the disclosure of the Heartbleed security vulnerability that rocked the Internet this week.

The country's Minister of National Revenue Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay wrote in a Twitter message on Wednesday that interest and penalties will not be applied to those filing 2013 tax returns after April 30, the last date for filing the returns, for a period equal to the length of the service disruption.

The agency has suspended public access to its online services as a preventive measure to protect the information it holds, while it investigates the potential impact on tax payer information, it said. It reiterated the Minister's decision in a statement about the Heartbleed bug on its home page.

The Heartbleed vulnerability takes advantage of a problem in certain versions of OpenSSL, a set of encryption tools used for securing Web connections, and could allow a remote attacker to expose critical data such as user authentication credentials and secret keys.

Some big Internet companies rushed this week to fix the problem.

CRA said it is working on a "remedy" for restoring online services and expects at this point that services will resume over the weekend.

The services affected include EFILE, a Web service that permits filing of income tax returns by third parties directly from tax preparation software, and NETFILE, a personal tax returns program.

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service, in contrast, said Wednesday it continues to accept tax returns ahead of an April 15 deadline, as its systems continue to operate and are not affected by Heartbleed. IRS said it continued to monitor the situation.

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