Vatican computers hacked in Chinese espionage effort, cybersecurity firm says
Hackers working for the Chinese Communist Party allegedly accessed the private computing network of the Vatican for several months ahead of a September meeting to discuss the appointment of bishops in the Asian country.
Analysts with Recorded Future, a Massachusetts-based cybersecurity company, said they had detected an attack on Vatican computers in which Chinese infiltrators accessed communications between high-ranking officials in the church, who openly discussed upcoming negotiations pertaining to the pope’s role in confirming bishops to the heads of Chinese churches, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
According to a Recorded Future report set for release on Wednesday, the espionage tactics began in early May. The firm outlined how one electronic file was masked in such a way that it appeared as if it was sent from the Vatican to Monsignor Javier Corona Herrera, the head chaplain of the Holy See’s Study Mission in Hong Kong.
Malware attached to the message allowed hackers to gain access to the Holy See’s Study Mission servers and private servers at the Vatican. Recorded Future analysts suggested the intrusion was performed by a CCP-backed group they named RedDelta.
The alleged espionage comes at a delicate junction between the two states as crackdowns in Hong Kong have exacerbated the tenuous relationship between the Vatican and China.