Recorded Future, a cybersecurity company, published a report on Tuesday claiming that a group of hackers allegedly linked to the Chinese government broke into the Vatican's computer network.
According to Recorded Future, hackers used the same methods of hacking that are usually used by hacker groups working for the Chinese authorities. There were also hacker attacks on the computers of the Catholic Church by the RedDelta group, sponsored by the Chinese government, experts believe.
Hacker attacks began in May. The hackers targeted both the Vatican and the Holy See's Research mission in China, a group of diplomats who represent the Church in Hong Kong and negotiate with Chinese authorities about the status of the Church in China. The previous agreement between the Vatican and China was concluded in 2018, and it ends this year. New negotiations are expected to take place in September вЂ” the exact date of their holding is not yet known due to the complex epidemiological situation in the world. But it is with them, according to Recorded Future, that hacker attacks are connected. The terms of the previous agreement were not disclosed.
According to some reports, in exchange for the presence of representatives of the Holy See in Hong Kong, the Chinese authorities requested permission to independently select candidates for bishops of the Church, with the right of the Pope to make a final decision on the selection of candidates from the list submitted by Beijing. The purpose of the attacks may have been to find out what conditions the Church expects in the run-up to a new round of negotiations.
The Chinese side has already denied all the charges. According to Reuters, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said during a news conference on Wednesday that China opposes hacking and is a вЂњstaunch defenderвЂќ of the basics of cybersecurity. Mr. Wang also added that the investigation of hacker attacks should be guided by irrefutable evidence, not hypotheses.
China is regularly criticized for violating religious freedom in the country, especially with regard to Catholics. The activities of the Church in the country are prohibited, and its members are persecuted and arrested. Instead, the country has a fully controlled Patriotic Catholic Association.