HONG KONG (SE): A cybersecurity firm, Recorded Future, based in the United States, has accused China of hacking Vatican computers as well as those of the Diocese of Hong Kong, the Holy See’s Study Mission in Hong Kong, and other Catholic organisations from May.
Chinese hackers allegedly hacked into the Vatican server and the Holy See’s network, including its Study Mission in Hong Kong. Other victims include the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) in Milan, reported AsiaNews, a news portal administered by the PIME.
Recorded Future detected the attacks and, in a recently released report, explained that they began last May. According to the reports, the attack was the work of a group called RedDelta, an entity backed by the Chinese government.
AsiaNews reported that the US company suspected the attacks were an attempt to steal secrets and spy on the Vatican ahead of a possible meeting between Holy See and Chinese delegations to discuss the renewal of the provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops, signed two years ago and which expires in September this year.
Monsignor Javier Herrera Corona, head of the Holy See Study Mission, in a statement, said that his institution had also experienced a long history of cyberattacks, including scams and fraudulent emails, but said he had no evidence of the specific attack alleged by Recorded Future: malware hidden in an email sent to him from a Vatican official.
Monsigor Herrera declined to comment on the impact the hacking allegations might have on the possible renewal of the Vatican’s agreement with Beijing, but noted that the Vatican doesn’t discuss information related to the negotiations through electronic channels, suggesting the damage caused by any breach would be limited.