The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has reactivated all online services following the three cyberattacks targeting over 5,000 accounts.
The CRA released a statement on Saturday confirming that they disabled Canadians’ access to the online portal in response to two separate cyberattacks. This measure was described as an “additional precaution,” preventing users from accessing their My Account, My Business Account, or Represent a Client portal. The CRA also disabled the link between its My Account and My Service Canada, as an additional precaution.
Who was impacted by the CRA cyberattacks?
The CRA determined the hackers were able to access the My Account, My Business Account, and Represent a Client function for the affected individuals. Those accounts were quickly disabled, but the hackers were able to access online services in about a third of the affected individuals.
In addition to hacking several thousand CRA accounts, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat said that hackers obtained and attempted to use GCKey usernames and passwords for just over 9,000 Canadians. GCKey usernames and passwords are used to access a variety of government departments such as Service Canada and Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
The CRA stated that they would be in contact with any individuals who have been affected. They have also notified the RCMP, and an investigation has been initiated.
Which government programs were affected?
Unfortunately, losing access to the CRA’s My Account portal means the typical features and services were unavailable to all Canadians.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit
The CERB is a COVID-19 emergency benefit that provides Canadians who have been negatively financially impacted by the pandemic with $2,000 every four weeks. The CERB requires Canadians to reapply every four weeks either through Service Canada, or the CRA.
Canada Emergency Student Benefit
The CESB provides students who have been unable to work due to COVID-19 with $1,250 per four week period or $2,000 per month if the student has dependents or a disability. The final eligibility period for this benefit is August 2 to August 29, 2020, so most students have already applied and received their benefit, but stragglers may have been affected.
While the CRA had already extended the deadline for personal, corporate, and trust income tax amounts due to September 1, 2020, they recently extended the deadline again, until September 30, 2020. Many Canadians use their My Account login to pay their personal and business tax amounts owing and to make installment payments for the 2020 tax year.
What can you do?
Unfortunately, hackers and cyberattacks have become part of life, and Canadian consumers can’t do a lot to defend against them. If your account is among those affected, the CRA will be in touch with you directly to verify your identity and restore your account.
Once you have access to your profile, you should follow a few steps to safeguard your information:
- Change your password (avoid the same or similar passwords to other accounts)
- Enable email notifications on the CRA My Account
- Set up a unique personal identification number on the account (new feature)
The CRA has made changes and modifications to their systems to fend off fraudsters and protect against similar cyberattacks.