Teen Arrested For Using Heartbleed To Get Canadian Taxpayer Info; Did Nothing To Hide Himself

from the that-didn't-take-long dept

One of the most high profile victims of the Heartbleed vulnerability was the Canadian tax service, Canada Revenue Agency, which shut down its online tax filing offering. A few days later, the agency admitted that about 900 Canadians had information copied from the site via someone exploiting the vulnerability, prior to the site being shut down. And, from there, it was just a day or so until it was reported that a teenager, Stephen Arthuro Solis-Reyes, had been arrested for the hack.

Given the speed of the arrest, it would not appear that Solis-Reyes did very much to cover his tracks. In fact, reports say he did nothing to hide his IP address. He's a computer science student -- and his father is a CS professor, with a specialty in data mining. It seems at least reasonably likely that the "hack" was more of a "test" to see what could be done with Heartbleed and (perhaps) an attempt to show off how risky the bug could be, rather than anything malicious. It will be interesting to see how he is treated by Canadian officials, compared to say, the arrests of Aaron Swartz and weev.
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Filed Under: canada, canadian revenue agency, cra, hacking, heartbleed, stephen arthuro solis-reyes


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  1. icon
    aldestrawk (profile), 18 Apr 2014 @ 1:52pm

    Re:

    "That's a big assumption to make, and it misses the point."

    Assuming Solis-Reyes did not have nefarious intentions is not such a big assumption when one takes his history into account.

    From: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/04/17/the-first-suspected-heartbleed-hacker-h as-long-history-of-hacking/?tid=hp_mm

    “This kid, when he was in high school was in the top of his class. He was extremely gifted. So he sent a letter to the [London District Catholic School Board in Ontario] indicating that their school system was susceptible to hacking.” The attorney said the school officials were nonplussed. “They said they’d like to test it themselves. He was a quote computer nerd unquote and they didn’t take him seriously.” So the 14-year-old, Joseph claims, went into the computer system and found “all the confidential information.” But then, right when things could have turned criminal, Joseph said his client stopped. “He could have changed everything, and changed nothing,” Joseph said.

    This article doesn't expound the problems with laws concerning unauthorized computer access but it is not missing the point either. I don't know what the penalties are in Canada for unauthorized use of a computer but in the U.S. the CFAA is a one-size-fits-all law where any unauthorized access has a maximum penalty of five years in prison. There is a wide range of criminality lumped together as violations of this law and it includes white, or gray, hat hackers who exercise an exploit simply to prove it was possible. Even with the best intentions, if such a hacker accesses a computer they don't have permission to access, the penalty is 5 years in prison. The law against unauthorized access should not have such a draconian penalty. The heavy penalties should apply to those who exhibit more nefarious intentions by also committing fraud or theft based on the information they illicitly acquired.

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