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Pope hires experts to ward off website attackers

The Vatican has revealed that it has taken on a team of experts to protect the Pope's website which is attacked by at least 30 mainly US hackers every day.

"Fortunately, up to now no-one has managed to penetrate the Pope's site thanks to a highly efficient team of specialists," said Archbishop Claudio Celli, secretary for the administration of the Holy See's heritage.

"Young Americans are the most common and aggressive of hackers around the world seeking to cross the Vatican's e-borders," he continued.

The Vatican must also fend off web surfers who harbour no hostile intent whatsoever, such as an insomniac Franciscan friar mentioned by Celli, who had repeatedly tried to enter the site.

Pope John Paul II has on several occasions shown his support for the internet, whilst warning against some of its specific uses, but for security reasons he has no personal email address.

Celli, speaking on the launch of a new five-language, $A850,000 Vatican website, said the investment was made to deal with a huge increase in traffic, including a deluge of wellwishers' messages.

For his 83rd birthday in May, the Pope received some 23,000 messages, he said.

"This is quite a problem for us, because in principle we answer every single message in the Pope's name," Celli said. "We also print out messages from personalities from all over the world."

The Vatican launched its first website on Christmas Day 1995 at an initial cost of $A88,000, mainly to serve journalists reporting on the Holy See.

Sydney Morning Herald

Pope recruits online guardians (WebUser)
Pope gets some online security (
Pope turns to security experts for Web defense (CNet)
Vatican pays experts to protect papal Web site (ZDnet)
Pope tackles hackers, virus writers (AFP)

8 Jul 2003