The history of digital attacks on the Holy See is by no means new. Here because. Umberto Rapetto's article
Fifteen days ago Zdnet had titled "Chinese state hackers target Hong Kong Catholic Church" warning that hackers serving the Chinese government had targeted the Catholic Church in Hong Kong.
The history of digital aggression to the Holy See, therefore, is not at all new and perhaps Beijing's interest in spying on what the high prelates think, say and write who exchange opinions, give dispositions and addresses, is perhaps all too obvious they compare and send documents through modern communication systems.
The trigger of the boarding to the e-mail boxes is the assumption of clear positions of the clergy of Hong Kong in support of democratic protests, "sympathy" which would have violated, so to speak, the official indication to maintain a certain neutrality in political matters of that area for months glowing.
Chinese intelligence has therefore deemed it appropriate and indispensable to browse the computers and networks available to the Vatican and its representatives.
The type of attack ("spearphishing") makes secondary identification of the "sniper" secondary, also because we are faced with consolidated techniques that have no secrets for those who have chewed these things for years. In fact, we are faced with a massive "phishing" action (ie the sending of fraudulent messages through e-mail) addressed not to an indiscriminate audience but to a specific organizational context (usually a company and in this case the Catholic Church ).
The emails that make up the bullets contain "attachments" or "links" that poison the recipients' devices (PCs, tablets and smartphones). The virtual machine gun determines the exfiltration of documents and confidential data stored by the victims and certainly not intended for disclosure.
China has historically been interested in supervising religious groups and unfortunately boasts a rich collection of cyber intrusions to gather information on Buddhist Tibetans and Muslim Uyghurs.
Relations between Beijing and the Holy See have been revitalized in recent years but their fragility is all too evident. Those with good memories remember that their diplomatic ties were truncated in 1951 and that – despite the existence of some bilateral agreements – the most significant agreement is the one signed in September 2018 (and that it should be renewed in the same month of this year) which allowed the Pope to regain control over the Chinese Catholic Church by giving it the power to appoint bishops (as long as the Party gives a green signal).
The "poisoned" emails, which have opened a gap in the flows of confidential correspondence from the Vatican, have made the "unofficial" positions of the Church transparent and torn the veil on delicate subjects such as those of the riots that have long tormented Hong Kong.
Those who look with fear at Oltretevere, try to worry also about what can happen in our borders. Certain "monitoring" actions can concern secular issues and do not need artifices conveyed by e-mail.
Voices, data, documents, images, videos pass through the devices that guarantee the functioning of the telematic networks. Every single information has a sender and one or more recipients, whose identifier allows to automatically classify who-says-what and who-speaks-with-whom. TLC devices do not need pirates to become aware of what interests the curious client: they are the modern caudine forks under which we bend every day regardless of the price paid.
(Excerpt from an article published on infosec.news)
This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/mondo/santa-sede-sotto-attacco-hacker/ on Sat, 01 Aug 2020 05:05:29 +0000.