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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

North Carolina Sheriff's deputy fatally shoots Black man

A Black man was fatally shot by a North Carolina sheriff's deputy in Elizabeth City, northeast of Raleigh, on Wednesday, igniting protests in the local community.

Details: Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten said at a news briefing the State Bureau of Investigation was investigating the shooting of Andrew Brown Jr., which happened about 8:30 a.m as deputies were serving a search warrant.

Pew: Over 80% of Asian adults say violence against them is increasing

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

More than 80% of Asian adults say that violence against them is increasing, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

The big picture: The survey, conducted April 5-11, comes after the recent shootings in Atlanta in which eight people, including six Asian women were killed, as well as a yearlong spike in hate incidents against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

Danger lurks in the Democrats' police talk

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats celebrate last June after they passed the George Floyd Policing Act. Photo: Ting Shen/Xinhua via Getty Images

As Congress forges ahead with police reform legislation, Democratic operatives are warning lawmakers to steer clear of any defund-the-police rhetoric since it could hurt them in the midterms.

Why it matters: President Biden and his fellow Democrats say Congress needs to pass the George Floyd Policing Act, which would ban chokeholds, prohibit no-knock warrants and generally make it easier to hold officers accountable for misconduct.