China has been accused of hacking Vatican computers as well as those in the Hong Kong Diocese and other Catholic organisations in May. Source: CNS.
The hacking appears to be an attempt to gain an advantage in talks between the Vatican and China, due to resume as early as this week, about a fresh deal on the appointment of bishops.
US data monitoring group Recorded Future and its Insikt Group used sophisticated data analysis tools to uncover the cyber espionage, ucanews.com reported.
“From early May 2020, the Vatican and the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong were among several Catholic Church-related organisations that were targeted by RedDelta, a Chinese-state sponsored threat activity group tracked by Insikt Group,” the Recorded Future report stated.
“This series of suspected network intrusions also targeted the Hong Kong study mission to China and the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, Italy. These organisations have not been publicly reported as targets of Chinese threat activity groups prior to this campaign.”
A landmark provisional Vatican-China agreement was signed in September 2018, the culmination of efforts by Pope Francis and his predecessors, St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, aimed at normalising the appointment of bishops and bringing the entire Catholic Church in China into communion with Rome.
China’s alleged actions would appear to fit in with Beijing’s program of hacking the communications devices of governments, businesses, charities and individuals around the world in recent years. China has consistently – and usually vehemently – denied all accusations of computer hacking, but investigations by data experts and journalists continue to turn up evidence of Beijing’s programs.
It is the first time the Vatican has been identified as a target of Chinese hackers.