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13 November, 2020 - 21:10 By Tony Quested

Darktrace answers The Vatican’s prayers

The Vatican Library, which holds one of the oldest and most significant collections of historical texts in the world, is deploying AI technology from Cambridge’s Darktrace to protect it against cyber-attacks.

Founded in 1451 by Nicholas V, the Vatican Library holds invaluable documents from across history including letters from ancient figures, drawings and writings from Michelangelo and Galileo and the oldest surviving copy of the Bible.

Eight years ago, the Library embarked on a project to digitise over 80,000 of these documents in order to help preserve the content for posterity, and broaden access to new audiences and academics. 

As a result, however, the collections have become vulnerable to cyber-attacks and securing their digital versions is paramount.

The Vatican Library chose Darktrace Immune System technology to protect against a range of potential attackers that pose a risk to these priceless works and writings. 

Powered by AI, the technology works by forming an evolving understanding of the ‘normal’ activity within the Vatican Library’s digital systems, and detects significant changes that may indicate that a cyber-threat is emerging. 

On average, Darktrace Cyber AI defends against 100 security incidents every month at the Library, spotting genuine threats before they escalate into crisis.

Manlio Miceli, chief information officer at the Vatican Library said: “A cyber-attack against the Vatican Library could see the collection copied, manipulated, or eradicated altogether – protecting these documents is important for not just the Vatican but the world’s historical memory.

“Darktrace AI is critical in defending the collection because it is constantly evolving and re-learning what is normal activity on our systems and what might be abnormal. This means that it keeps pace with changes in our environment, and changes in the threat landscape too.”

• Pope Francis photo by Jeffrey Bruno from New York City, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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