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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A cybersecurity firm is working with the Vatican to defend its priceless collection of digitized writings from hacking efforts.

Why it matters: Digitizing library archives can provide an invaluable backup should the originals be lost or destroyed, but they're also vulnerable to cyberattacks. Without stout defenses, digital libraries can be looted or even vandalized.

What's happening: The more than 500-year-old Vatican Library, which holds among other historical treasures the oldest surviving copy of the Bible, has been in the process of digitizing over 80,000 of its rarest documents.

  • The digital archive "allows more people to explore the world’s history firsthand," says Manlio Miceli, chief information officer for the Vatican Library.
  • But the archive also presents a tempting target to hackers, which is why the Library announced last month that it would begin working with the cyber AI company Darktrace to defend its digital treasures.

How it works: Justin Fier, the director for cyber intelligence and analysis at Darktrace, says the company has been defending the library against about 100 hacking attempts per month.

  • As part of its cyberdefense efforts, Darktrace is employing what it calls an "enterprise immune system," which develops an ongoing understanding of normal activity within the Vatican Library's digital operations, so it can quickly detect when something is off.
  • "What we can do is tell you what's usual and what's unusual," says Fier. "And 90% of the time, the unusual turns out to be either intentionally or unintentionally malicious."

The bottom line: As a former Catholic altar server, I just want to know whether hacking the Pope counts as a venial or a mortal sin.

Go deeper

GOP Rep. Andrew Clyde defends comparison of Jan. 6 riot to "tourists"

Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) departs a press conference on June 14. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Rep. Andrew Clyde defended comments made during a House committee hearing in which he compared the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot to a "normal visit."

Why it matters: The Georgia Republican has routinely tried to downplay the events of Jan. 6, calling the mob of Trump supporters who breached the Capitol "tourists" and voting against awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to officers.

27 mins ago - Health

England lifts quarantine requirement for vaccinated EU, U.S. citizens

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Biden at the G7 in Cornwall last month. Photo: Leon Neal - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Fully vaccinated travelers from the European Union and the U.S. will no longer need to quarantine when arriving in England, effective Aug. 2 at 4 a.m. local time, the U.K. government announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: It's a reflection of the British government's confidence in its highly successful COVID-19 vaccine rollout, despite the spread of the Delta variant. The move stands in stark contrast to the Biden administration's continued refusal to lift restrictions for travelers from the U.K. and Europe.

2 hours ago - Sports

Simone Biles is still a winner

Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Simone Biles' leadership on the mat has never been questioned. After her shocking withdrawal from Tuesday's team final, she proved just as capable a leader off of it.

What happened: During the first rotation, Biles performed an uncharacteristically bad vault, appearing to lose herself in midair.