Archdiocese of SF says it suffered cyberattack during prayer service for Ukraine

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An effort by San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone to lead Catholics in prayer for the suffering in Ukraine may have come under a cyberattack, the Archdiocese of San Francisco has said.

Cordileone, responding to Pope Francis’ call, scheduled a Rosary – a set of prayers – to take place virtually on Ash Wednesday, a Catholic holy day of prayer and fasting.

But when people tried to join the archbishop in prayer virtually, they were unable to log into the archdiocese’s website despite repeated attempts, said the Reverend Patrick Summerhays, vicar general and moderator of the curia. of the archdiocese.

Summerhays and other Archaeological staff were on retirement when they were unable to log on to the website to join the Archbishop’s Rosary for Peace in Ukraine. He contacted the archdiocese’s chief technology officer who said an unusually high volume of attempts to visit the site had crashed him.

The archdiocese’s internet service provider said it suspects a type of cyberattack known as distributed denial of service, in which a website is overwhelmed with a large volume of traffic, causing it to slow down or stopped.

“All signs pointed to a cyberattack,” Summerhays said.

The archdiocese notified the FBI of the incident, as advised by the internet service, he said. The FBI office in San Francisco did not respond to requests for comment.

Viewers who wanted to join the Archbishop in prayer were able to do so on You Tube. Several informed the archdiocese on Thursday that they had been unable to log into the website, Summerhays said.

Neither the archdiocese’s Internet service provider nor Summerhays knew the source of the attack. Summerhays admitted to being surprised that a rosary in San Francisco was embroiled in an international dispute.

“I was a bit shocked,” he said. “Here we try to pray. But it’s a major political event in the world and it’s a new form of warfare, cyber warfare. I never would have thought that we would meet there. But I guess we are part of the battle now.

Michael Cabanatuan is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: mcabanatuan@sfchronicle.com

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