Chinese Hackers Targeted Vatican, NY Times Reports
July 29, 2020
The New York Times Wednesday said the Vaticanís computer networks have
been breached by Chinese hackers since May, in an apparent espionage
effort before the start of sensitive talks between the Roman Catholic
Church and Communist China.
The Times says the attack, discovered by private U.S.-based
cybersecurity and monitoring firm Recorded Future, appears to be the
first time hackers have been publicly caught directly hacking into the
Vatican and a Hong Kong-based group of de facto Vatican representatives
who have negotiated with China over the Churchís status on the mainland.
The newspaper says cybersecurity experts at Recorded Future have
presumed the hackers are working for the Chinese government.
Vatican and China are expected to begin talks in September over renewal
of a provisional agreement they reached in 2018 that gives the pope the
final say over bishops selected by the Communist Party for the
state-sanctioned Catholic Church. The Times says the revelations are
certain to anger the Vatican and further complicate its relationship
with the Chinese government.
The two sides cut off formal diplomatic ties in 1951. The Vatican
officially recognizes Taiwan, the self-ruled island Beijing claims is a
rogue breakaway territory that belongs under its control. If the Vatican
and China restore diplomatic relations, Chinese officials are certain to
demand that the Church cut off all ties with Taiwan.
China officially recognizes Catholicism and four other religions, but
Communist Party officials often suspect religious groups and worshipers
pose a threat to national security and are working to undermine the
partyís grip on power.
Authorities have often used cyberattacks to gather information on groups
such as Buddhist Tibetans, Muslim Uighurs and members of the outlawed
Falun Gong who operate outside of China.
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