Hackers interrupt Catholic charity’s online press conference on Ukraine – Catholic World Report

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Vatican City, March 1, 2022 / 05:10 (CNA).

An online news conference by a Catholic charity on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine was disrupted by hackers on Tuesday morning.

As soon as Aloysius John, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, began speaking at the press conference, held on March 1 via the video conferencing platform Zoom, he was drowned out by a flood of obscenities.

The initial disturbance was followed by interruptions of various voices, including those of children, lasting at least three minutes. Zoom accounts also shared obscenities in the call’s group chat feature.

More than 200 people had followed the press conference online, which was attended by a Ukrainian Catholic priest and the president of Caritas Ukraine.

After meeting administrators kicked those causing the audio interruptions, obscenities continued to be added in the Zoom chat.

Marta Petrosillo, Communications Director of Caritas Internationalis, said: “I’m sorry, we have a hacker sending messages on behalf of participants. We apologize for this, but we will not stop being witnesses.

Attendees of the press conference said some of the chat messages posted from their accounts were not written by them.

“Sorry, messages in my name are being sent… but I’m not sending them,” wrote one participant.

“And that is NOT my post,” wrote another.

Petrosillo told CNA that Caritas Internationalis had not identified who hacked the press conference – a practice known as “zoom bombing” – at the time of publication.

The Vatican-based confederation of Catholic charities had share the Zoom link to the press conference publicly on Twitter.

Experts have accused Russia of using hacking, cyber warfare and disinformation in its conflict with Ukraine.

In January, around 70 Ukrainian government websites were hit by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, according to the BBC. Officials in Kiev believe Russia was responsible.

US officials said Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate was responsible for the DDoS attacks that took down the websites of two banks and the website of the Ukrainian army on February 15 and 16.

Ukraine’s Cyber ​​Defense also issued a warning on Feb. 25 about widespread phishing attacks against Ukrainians, in which targets are tricked into giving up personal information.

A cyberattack on Ukraine’s power plants in 2015 left more than 200,000 people without power.

US banks are now bracing for retaliatory cyberattacks after instituting sanctions against Russia, according to Reuters. Threats include ransomware and malware attacks, denial of service attacks that take down websites, and data erasure and theft.

The BBC reported that some of the cyberattacks on Ukrainian government websites did not come from the Russian government but from a group of “so-called ‘patriotic’ Russian hackers” who are causing online disruption without direct orders from the state. Russian.

Caritas Internationalis has launched an emergency appeal for aid in Ukraine after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of the country on February 24.

The appeal will provide food, clean water, safe housing and hygiene kits to those affected by the conflict. The money raised will also help provide safe transportation for people seeking to reach loved ones in safe areas. Donations can be made on the Caritas Internationalis website.

Caritas Internationalis is a confederation of over 160 Catholic humanitarian organizations working at grassroots level around the world. There are two member organizations in Ukraine: Caritas Ukraine, overseen by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and Caritas-Spes, operated by the Latin Rite Catholic Church of Ukraine.

Father Vyacheslav Grynevych, executive director of Caritas-Spes, was among the speakers at the press conference.

“Our cities, homes and kindergartens have been destroyed. But no one will succeed in destroying our aspirations for peace and freedom,” Grynevych said in a video call ahead of the press conference.

“At this dramatic time, we bravely continue to help those in need,” he said.

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