A cyber security firm has concluded that Chinese hackers entered the Vatican’s computer network during talks between the Catholic Church and Beijing in recent months.
According to the attack reported on Tuesday by Massachusetts-based firm Recorded Future, the Chinese government works to strengthen its control over religious groups in the country. It also precedes the September negotiations regarding control over the appointment of bishops and the status of churches in China.
The incursion targeted the Vatican and the Holy See’s Study Mission to China, a group of informal Vatican diplomats based in Hong Kong who are negotiating the status of the Church in China, and began in early May.
An attack during the campaign was hidden in a fake letter from a Vatican clergyman from the Vatican in a particularly sophisticated attempt to replicate a letter from the official stationery of Archbishop Edgar Pena Para. Recorded Future decided that the attack was tied to the upcoming negotiations on the 2018 agreement.
Details of the deal reached two years ago are still largely unknown, but Beijing is believed to have allowed churches to name bishop candidates, but allowed the Pope to have a final say in the selection.
Recorded Future concluded that the hacking campaign was sponsored by RedDelta, a state-sponsored Chinese group, and mirrored those strategies of other Chinese-approved hacking operations in recent years. However, new technologies and computer code used in the intrusion made it difficult to understand the source of the hack with 100 percent certainty.
In the talks in September, relations between the Holy See and Beijing have been quite tense, especially because of China’s security system in Hong Kong and the ongoing sanctions of religious life in China.
“The suspected infiltration into the Vatican will offer RedDelta insight into the state of negotiation of the Holy See before the September 2020 renewal of the deal. Its relationship with the Vatican on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement amid extensive studies and recent comprehensive Hong Kong national security legislation The goal of the Hong Kong Study Mission and its Catholic Diocese could also provide a valuable intelligence source for monitoring, ”Recorded Future wrote.
President Xi Jinping has placed a premium on increasing government surveillance throughout China on several religions, including ordering the tearing down of more than a thousand churches from 2014 to 2016, and more recently, the highly criticized detention centers for ethnic Uygars. Whose Muslims are established
There has been a strained relationship between China and the Vatican over the past decades, which severed diplomatic relations in 1951, after which Holy See officially recognized Taiwan. In 2014, Beijing broke with tradition and allowed the Pope’s plane to fly through Chinese airspace on its way to South Korea, a pioneer Pope FrancisPope Francis McCarthy calls on Pelosi to condemn ‘mob violence’ after the Pope of St Junipero Serra statue. Pope Francis urged the Catholic media to ‘remove the diseases of racism, injustice and indiscretion’. To send a message blessing peace to Xi. However, Chinese officials gave rise to allegations that the church was helping pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.