Hackers affiliated with Anonymous have turned their attentions to the Catholic Church, taking down the Vatican's website for several hours on Wednesday and cutting off email access.
A spokesman for the Vatican, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, confirmed to the Catholic News that vatican.va had been the "object of an attack", but declined to add further details.
Groups claiming to be affiliated with Anonymous said the attack was revenge for a number of historical atrocities carried out by the Catholic Church.
The group accused the church of covering up details of sexual abuse suffered by children at the hands of Catholic priests and hiding Nazi war criminals.
“This is not intended to attack the Christian religion or against the faithful around the world, but to the corrupt Roman Apostolic Church,” the group wrote [Italian language site].
The incident came just a day after it emerged that one of the most notorious Anonymous hackers, Sabu, had been working as an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation for months.
Many in the security industry had believed that the arrest of those connected with the LulzSec group, led by Sabu, would curtail Anonymous's hacking capabilities.
Last month, security firm Imperva boasted how it had been able to track Anonymous members as they prepared to launch an attack against a high-profile target – believed to have been the Vatican website.
At that time, Imperva claimed that Anonymous was using unsophisticated tools which were easy to defend against.
The Vatican site has subsequently been restored.
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