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Ottawa/Canadian-Media: An investigation revealing the possibility of some usernames and passwords were obtained by unauthorized third parties, may result in locking of more than 800,000 taxpayers out of its online platform tomorrow as a precautionary cybersecurity measure, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) reported.
Cybersecurity. Image credit: Pinterest
The agency said the move is being taken after a similar action in February, when over 100,000 accounts accounts were locked.
"Like the accounts that were locked in February, these user IDs and passwords were not compromised as a result of a breach of CRA's online systems. Rather, they may have been obtained by unauthorized third parties and through a variety of means by sources external to the CRA," said CRA in a news release.
External data breaches and email phishing scams as possible sources of compromised personal information were cited by the CRA and said such "preventative measures ... may become more frequent to safeguard taxpayers' information."
CRA's move in the middle of one of the most complicated tax seasons in recent memory, when millions of Canadians prepare to file taxes after receiving COVID-19 benefits would cause affected taxpayers to remove their emails from their accounts and would not enable them to reset passwords using the traditional method on the agency's website, said CRA.
Access to their CRA account by the individuals could be done by a different login method, such as their banking login, or by creating a new user ID and password by requesting a unique personal identification number (PIN) be sent by mail.
Those who have signed up for email notifications from CRA My Account will receive emails, while other affected individuals will receive their instructions by mail.
The issues are expected to be fixed by March 22, CRA said, but anyone who hasn't been able to regain access by that date should call the agency.
For the safety of their personal information, all users of CRA's services are being encouraged by the CRA to create a personal identification number (PIN) in CRA My Account to help confirm their identity on future calls with the CRA, sign up for email notifications, monitor their accounts for suspicious activities, including unsolicited account changes, change passwords regularly, keep account information up to date, and install software to remove malware from computers and devices.