According to security firm Recorded Future, Chinese hackers have infiltrated the Vatican’s computer network in an apparent espionage effort. This happened ahead of sensitive negotiations with Beijing, which currently recognises five religions, including Catholicism. However, the Communist Party has recently attempted to tighten its control over religious groups, perceived as a threat to the stability of the Party.
The New York Times reported that the series of intrusions began in early May. One attack was hidden inside a document that appeared to be a legitimate letter from the Vatican to Msgr. Javier Corona Herrera, the chaplain who heads the study mission in Hong Kong, Recorded Future said in a report released this week.
It was an artful deception: an electronic file that looked as if it was on the official stationery of Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra. The letter carried a message from Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, the pope’s second in command and an old China hand who has defended the deal. In his message, Cardinal Parolin expressed the pope’s sadness about the death of a bishop. Recorded Future concluded that the attack was carried out by a state-sponsored group in China, which it named RedDelta.