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The hacker group LockBit announced that the evangelical Relentless Church from South Carolina is now on their list of targets. According to the cybercriminals, they have already managed to steal a lot of personal data on religious institution employees, including their passport details and financial documents.
Relentless Church is quite a large institution with more than 15,000 members. Broadcasts from the church draw over 200,000 online viewers during services. Relentless Church officials would not comment on the incident.
This is not the only such incident in recent times. Another hacker group, Karakurt, which specializes in ransomware, also reported an attack on religion- and faith-related organizations. This time the cybercriminals targeted Our Sunday Visitor, a Catholic publishing house. The company publishes books, pamphlets, newsletters, and other religious literature.
The cybercriminals claim to have stolen more than 130 GB of data. Accounting documents, employee data, invoices, marketing information, and more are among the data stolen. Our Sunday Visitor has already recovered from the attack and restored normal operations. Law enforcement and third-party cybersecurity experts are currently investigating.
Violation of hackers’ “code of ethics’’
According to experts, this behavior is atypical for hacker groups. Despite their blatantly illegal activities, cybercriminals usually adhere to an unwritten “moral code” that prohibits attacks on a number of organizations, including medical institutions, churches, and other socially significant organizations. Cybersecurity experts say it’s not so much a question of moral high ground as of the financial futility of attacking these types of institutions.
History has seen repeated violations of these rules, especially in the context of attacks on medical institutions. In January, for example, a LockBit-linked attacker targeted Canada’s largest pediatric medical center, the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Nevertheless, the hacker group apologized to the institution, condemned the hacker’s actions, and provided the decoder for free.