A 19-year-old Canadian has become the first person arrested for theft of information related to the Heartbleed bug, a defect that allows hackers to bypass internet encryption code.

Federal police in Canada said on Wednesday they had arrested and charged Stephen Arthuro Solis-Reyes over the theft of 900 Canadian taxpayers'  data, which was made vulnerable by the "Heartbleed" bug.

Solis-Reyes was arrested at his London, Ontario home on Tuesday without incident. He is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday to face charges of mischief and unauthorised use of a computer to steal data from the Canada Revenue Agency's website.

"It is believed that Solis-Reyes was able to extract private information held by the CRA by exploiting the security vulnerability known as the Heartbleed bug," police said in a statement.

The suspect was tracked down within four days after the CRA reported a serious security breach. Police said computer equipment was seized at the suspect's home, and that the investigation is still ongoing.

The Canada Revenue Agency said 900 social insurance numbers - personal nine-digit codes required for working or accessing government benefits in Canada - had been stolen last week by "someone exploiting the Heartbleed  vulnerability." 

Its website was shut for several days over concerns about the Heartbleed bug.

The recently-discovered flaw in online-data scrambling software OpenSSL allows hackers to eavesdrop on online communications, steal data, impersonate websites and unlock encrypted data.

OpenSSL is commonly used to protect passwords, credit card numbers and other data sent via the internet.

More than half of websites use the software, but not all versions have the same vulnerability, according to heartbleed.com.

Source: AFP