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Thursday, 30 July 2020 09:10

CIA-backed group claims China hacked into Vatican Featured

CIA-backed group claims China hacked into Vatican Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

A threat group sponsored by China allegedly hacked into the Vatican, the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong and a number of related organisations in May, the CIA-backed threat intelligence firm Recorded Future claims.

The firm's Insikt Group said the suspected network intrusions also hit the Hong Kong Study Mission to China and the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions in Italy.

The break-ins were related to the expected September 2020 renewal of a 2018 China-Vatican deal that allowed the Chinese Communist Party to get more control and oversight over its Catholic community.

Recorded Future said the predecessor of the Hong Kong Study Mission to China had played a role in negotiating the 2018 agreement.

The group suspected to be behind the intrusions is named RedDelta.

China has had a troubled relationship with the Vatican, Recorded Future claimed, particularly with its governing body, the Holy See.

The company described RedDelta as a "highly active threat activity group targeting entities relevant to Chinese strategic interests".

"Despite the group’s consistent use of well-known tools such as PlugX and Cobalt Strike, infrastructure re-use, and operations security failures, these intrusions indicate RedDelta is still being tasked to satisfy intelligence requirements," Recorded Future said.

"In particular, this campaign demonstrates a clear objective to target religious bodies, and therefore we feel this is particularly pertinent for religious and non-governmental organisations to take note and invest in network defences to counter the threat posed by Chinese state-sponsored threat activity groups."

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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