A 19-year-old alleged hacker has been arrested and his computer equipment seized by Canadian police after he purportedly exploited the “Heartbleed” bug vulnerability to steal confidential information from the country’s tax collection agency.
“Heartbleed,” which takes advantage of a security gap in a popular open-source encryption program, was discovered last week, forcing companies to shore up their security and millions of people to update passwords. NPR’s All Tech Considered did a very thorough explainer last week, which you can read here, as well as a “What Now?” story, here.
The Globe and Mail says Stephen Arthuro Solis-Reyes, a computer science student, was arrested at his home in London, Ontario, and charged with one count of mischief in relation to data.
Solis-Reyes is accused of exploiting the Heartbleed vulnerability to steal sensitive information, such as social security numbers, from servers of the Canada Revenue Agency, which is that country’s equivalent of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
The Globe and Mail describes Solis-Reyes as “a second-year student at the University of Western Ontario. In 2012, he graduated from a London high school, Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary.” It adds:
“He was part of a team from his secondary school that came first in a programming competition at the London District Catholic School Board. He is also the creator of a BlackBerry phone app that solves Sudoku puzzles, which was released while he was still in high school.”
In a statement, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said it treated the security breach “as a high priority case and mobilized the necessary resources to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.”
“Investigators from National Division, along with our counterparts in ‘O’ Division, have been working tirelessly over the last four days analyzing data, following leads, conducting interviews, obtaining and executing legal authorizations and liaising with our partners,” RCMP Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud said.
“The Heartbleed bug put many consumers’ user names and passwords at risk. Undetected for two years, the bug quietly undermined the basic security of the Internet by leaving a gap in OpenSSL, an encryption technology used widely by businesses to protect sensitive data. By some estimates, the bug affected as much as two-thirds of the Internet; the flaw prompted thousands of Web users to change their passwords on Google, Yahoo, Facebook and other major services.”