Hacker and Interpol agent meet in the Vatican


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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 16, 2009 ( When a young Swiss hacker and an Interpol agent met in the Vatican on Friday, they understandably differed on many issues. They did, however, coincide in a recommendation for Catholic individuals and officials: Exercise common sense and caution when connected to the Net.

Their meeting occurred in the context of a four-day conference that ended Sunday in the Vatican. It was promoted by the Commission for the Media of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences (CCEE).

Dimitrios Angelopoulos was the Interpol official. He directs the office for cybernetic crime in Europe, Africa and the Middle East in Interpol's general secretariat. The 17-year-old hacker, for obvious reasons, remains nameless, though he was introduced to the meeting participants as Little Brother Bruno.

Wearing a black T-shirt with the words "Quelle connerie la guerre" (War -- What Stupidity), the young hacker was responding to an invitation from the European bishops to help them penetrate the mentality of those young people for whom computer science becomes a means to claim freedom of information, at times ending up in criminal activity. Little Brother Bruno himself has had some run-ins with the law.

A cyber policeman

Next to him, and listening to him talk, was the unsmiling Greek agent Angelopoulos, who with his intervention confirmed the many dangers that Internet surfers face today, in particular if they are priests or bishops, or directors of Catholic sites.

After the meeting, ZENIT asked Angelopoulos which groups are most interested in attacking the Vatican. He interrupted before the question was finished to clarify: "The Vatican isn't the only objective. The objective can be any Catholic site, including the computer of a monastery or a priest connected to the Internet."

The agent explained that it would be very easy for him to penetrate the computer of a remote parish priest in Poland and discover confidential information or information that can be manipulated by those who wish to attack the Church.

"In fact, it would be enough to go to Facebook and analyze the information that a priest presents in his profile," the official contended. "One must be very prudent!"

In his work, Angelopoulos studies the motives that move cybernetic pirates. There are two, he says: "Political interest and economic interest."

The attacks on Catholics are due to the first motive, he explained after his meeting with the bishops.

"And who can have political motives against the Church?" we ask.

"A lot of people," he says. "For example, Muslim fundamentalists, who have very good cybernetic attack equipment."

So then to keep Church officials from being paranoid about using the Internet, Angelopoulos is proposing a course in the Vatican.

"It could help a lot," he said.

3 types

For his part, Little Brother Bruno began his conversation with ZENIT joking: "I promise not to organize any attacks against the Holy See's Web page."

The Swiss youth, who has lived for computer science since he was six years old, acknowledged that the Interpol agent was not mistaken in alerting bishops and priests about the dangers they face.

"For many hackers it would be a great victory simply to disfigure the Vatican site by putting a photograph of Osama Bin Laden," he explained.

Then he clarified that there are three types of hackers.

The "white hat hacker," which he defined as someone acting for his ideals, in particular, freedom of information. This hacker does not wish to cause harm (indeed, he is often employed to hack), although that does not mean his activity is always legal, given that on occasions he violates laws.

The "grey hat hacker" claims the same motive as the "white hats," but has fallen to temptation. During one of his illegal penetrations of a site, he has stolen money or information.

Finally, there is the "black hat hacker" also called a "cracker," whose objective is generally criminal.

Today Little Brother Bruno at age 17 has established a computer science company and works for businesses that want to foolproof their security systems.

"I am no longer interested in penetrating the sites of governments, armies or political parties," he said, given that in the future he could earn quite a lot of money in the electronic market.

In any case, his advice and that of the Interpol agent was the same: "common sense" and "a lot of prudence" when one is connected.