The cyber security company has concluded that Chinese hackers have infiltrated Vatican computer networks in recent months in preparation for talks between the Catholic Church and Beijing.
The attack, launched by Massachusetts-based Recorded Future on Tuesday, comes as the Chinese government works to strengthen control over the country’s religious groups. He also comes before the September talks to control the appointment of bishops and the status of churches in China.
The infiltration targeted a Vatican-Holy See study mission to China, a group of informal Vatican diplomats based in Hong Kong who discussed the status of the church in China, and began in early May.
One attack during the campaign was hidden in a fake letter from the Vatican to a Hong Kong chaplain in an extremely sophisticated attempt to replicate a letter from the official stationery of Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra. Recorded Future has found that the attack was most likely linked to the upcoming negotiations on a 2018 agreement.
The details of the agreement reached two years ago are still largely unknown, but it is believed that it allowed Beijing to appoint episcopal candidates to the church, but gave the pope the final say in the selection.
Recorded Future concluded that the hacking campaign was led by RedDelta, a Chinese state-sponsored group, and that the tactics reflected the tactics of other hacking operations approved by China in recent years. However, new techniques and computer code used in infiltrations have made it difficult to identify the source of the hack with 100% certainty.
The relationship between the Holy See and Beijing was particularly tense at the beginning of the September talks, especially in the context of China’s security intervention in Hong Kong and the continuing restrictions on religious life in China.
“A suspicion of entering the Vatican would offer RedDelt a glimpse into the Holy See’s negotiating position before the September 2020 agreement was renewed. movement amid widespread protests and the recent large-scale Hong Kong National Security Act. “, Written by Recorded Future.
President Xi Jinping has awarded a prize for strengthening government oversight of several religions, including a regulation to break down crossings from more than a thousand churches between 2014 and 2016, and to recently establish highly criticized ethnic Uyghur detention centers, mostly from which are Muslims.
China and the Vatican have had a strained relationship in recent decades, severed by diplomatic relations in 1951, after which the Holy See officially recognized Taiwan. In 2014, Beijing broke with tradition and allowed the pope to fly a plane through Chinese airspace on its way to South Korea, which led to Pope FrancisPope Francis McCarthy calls on Pelosi to condemn “mob violence” after the overthrow of the statue of St. Juniper Serra, Pope Francis urges the Catholic media to “overcome the diseases of racism, injustice and indifference” Countries use coronavirus to suppress and persecute MORE send a message offering the blessing of peace Xi. However, tensions have increased as Chinese officials have accused the church of helping Protestant protesters in Hong Kong.