China is suspected of hacking the Vatican. Why over here

But China and the Vatican are expected to begin sensitive negotiations in September for a secret deal on control of the Catholic Church in China. According to a report released on Tuesday by Record Future, a threatening intelligence firm, Chinese leaders may be looking for an advantage in how Holy View planned to arrive at the bargaining table.

The names of dubious groups such as Mustang Panda and Reddelta take into account the cloak-and-dagger world of the medieval Catholic Church, when the pope sent powerful messengers to royal courts around the world. But the report is less Dan Brown than careful data analysis. It accuses China of using malicious software to slip into the Vatican’s internal network.
“Our research has uncovered a dubious China state-sponsored campaign that led to several high-profile entities associated with the Catholic Church renewing the provisional Sino-Vatican deal in September 2020,” Recorded Future analysts wrote in a report released on Tuesday Targets for. ”

Hitting the Vatican, the report continued, was part of China’s ongoing plan to control the country’s underground Catholic Church, whose leaders have not been approved by the state-run China Patriotic Association.

The position of the churches and the questions about which the bishops have the power to name are on the cruelty of negotiations between China and the Vatican. According to the report, China is also closely monitoring the Church’s stand on pro-democracy.

A Vatican spokesman declined to comment. The Chinese Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the New York Times, which first told the story, a Chinese official denied the report and called the allegations “baseless speculation”.

China is tightening religious groups

The country has been accused of large-scale human rights abuses against religious minorities including Muslim Uygars, Tibetan Buddhists and Christians in the country as a revelation of China’s suspected hacking.

“State-sponsored repression against all religions continues to intensify,” State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo said in June, when the State Department released its report on the state of religious freedom in countries around the world.

Pompeo said, “There is a large-scale spying of Uygars in Xinjiang. Hence the suppression of Tibetans and Buddhists and Falun Gong and Christians.”

How suspected hackers appeared

A research group within Recorded Future monitors online “at-risk actors”, including state-sponsored hackers in China, an analyst at the company said. The analyst was asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the allegations.

“Such behavior by China is common and has occurred over the years,” the analyst said.

According to the analyst, the hackers’ methods were not particularly sophisticated – one involved a general spear phishing strategy – but they are effective. A “greed” was a condolence letter from Cardinal Pietro Parolin, a Vatican secretary of state, a leader in the Hong Kong Church, a key participant in the upcoming talks. Upon opening, the letter infects the computer of the opener.

The report stated that it is currently unclear whether the actors themselves created the document, or whether it was a valid document they were able to obtain and weaponize.

Another suspected hack bore the mark of malware from RedDelta, a Chinese-state sponsored “Threat Activity Group,” according to the report.

The Recorded Future analyst said the Vatican was told about the hacking, which began in May.


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