The Vatican Website apparently is the latest victim of the hacker group Anonymous, reportedly taken down March 7 in protest of everything from the Catholic Church's doctrine and tenets to the sexual abuse of children by priests.
The Vatican's Website, at www.vatican.va, was down for a while March 7, though appeared to be back up and running by 5 p.m. ET. A Vatican spokesman confirmed with the Associated Press that the site was down, but declined to speculate on the cause.
However, Anonymous hackers are taking credit for the attack. In a posting on a blog that reportedly is run by the group in Italy, the hackers railed against the Catholic Church for a host of alleged offenses committed over the centuries, from burning books and executing opponents to aiding the Nazis, opposing abortion and crimes against children.
"This is NOT ntended to attack the Christian religion or against the faithful around the world, but to the corrupt Roman Apostolic Church and all its 'emanations,'" according to a Google translation of the post, which was written in Italian.
Given the leaderless nature of the group, it's difficult to verify the comments. At the end of the blog, however, it reads: "We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We don't forgive. We don't Forget. Expect us."
The attack on the Vatican site comes the same day that hackers claiming to be with Anonymous attacked the PandaLabs site of Panda Security, apparently done in retaliation for the security software vendor's work in helping authorities in the United States and Europe track down members of both Anonymous and LulzSec, another loosely organized hacker group that went on a 50-day tear in 2011.
Investigators on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean have had some success over the past couple of years arresting members of both groups, and on March 6 scored a major coup with the arrests of five people who allegedly were major players in LulzSec.
Two of the men were from England, another two from Ireland and a fifth person--who also allegedly had ties with Anonymous--from Chicago.
Authorities were helped by information given to them by the leader of LulzSec, a 28-year-old unemployed New York City man named Hector Xavier Monsegur, who went by the online name "Sabu." Luis Corrons, technical director at PandaLabs, lauded the arrests in a blog titled "Where is the Lulz Now." The Anonymous hackers accused Panda Security of helping investigators track down members of Anonymous and LulzSec, saying Panda's efforts helped lead to the arrest of 25 Anonymous members.
Panda Security officials downplayed the damage from the Anonymous attacks, saying the hackers got into a server that was outside of the company's internal network and that the server was primarily used for marketing campaigns and hosting blogs.