Security Experts:

Vatican Said To Be Victim in Recent Targeted Cyber Attack

Late last week, SecurityWeek reported on a new Trojan Key Logger named “Admin.HLP” that captures sensitive user information and attempts to export it to a server in a remote location.

Discovered by researchers at Radware, the Trojan came hidden within a standard Windows help file named Amministrazione.hlp, and was used in targeted attacks, against at least one Radware customer, Ronen Kenig, Director, Product Marketing, Security Products at Radware told SecurityWeek at the time. 

One day after SecurityWeek reported on the incident, Matt Egan of FoxBusiness, citing an unnamed source, reported that the Vatican was the victim in the attack.

The governing body of the Catholic Church is not commenting on the issue, however.

According to the Catholic News Agency (CNA), the Vatican is refusing to confirm or deny reports that it was targeted with the “Admin.HLP” malware. “No comment,” is all that was said in a two-word email from the Vatican Press Office on August 31 sent in response to an inquiry from CNA.

Radware would not comment on the specifics or name the customer.

Admin.HLP monitors keystrokes on the victim’s computer and collects user passwords, credit card numbers and other sensitive information.

Data captured via the Key Logger function is saved into a file called “UserData.dat” within the ‘Application Data’ directory, a note from Radware explained.

The Vatican has been hit with cyber attacks in the past, including DDoS attacks and Website defacements by Anonymous. It's unclear who was behind these recent targeted attacks, however. 

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For more than 10 years, Mike Lennon has been closely monitoring the threat landscape and analyzing trends in the National Security and enterprise cybersecurity space. In his role at SecurityWeek, he oversees the editorial direction of the publication and is the Director of several leading security industry conferences around the world.