Mandiant today has released their findings on an ongoing Pro-PRC IO campaign leveraging infrastructure from a Chinese PR firm to spread content to inauthentic news sites. Mandiant identified at least 72 suspected sites and a number of suspected social media assets which disseminate content strategically aligned with the political interests of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The sites present themselves primarily as independent news outlets from different regions across the world, publishing content in 11 languages. The sites are believed to be linked to Shanghai Haixun Technology Co., Ltd, a Chine PR firm.
Chris Olson, CEO of The Media Trust had this comment:
“By now it’s widely recognized that the Web is a dangerous tool for spreading propaganda, manipulating elections and changing public opinion – but we rarely recognize how deep the problem goes. Aside from creating fake websites to spread their message, foreign adversaries regularly leverage otherwise legitimate news platforms to spread their stories in the U.S and around the world.
With the help of third-party code – which includes promoted content features and programmatic advertising – nation-state actors can reach consumers across social media and entertainment sites, mobile apps, news platforms and more. Until publishers, developers and legislators commit to defending our digital borders – not just our physical ones – misinformation and propaganda will continue to spread unchecked.”
This really underscores the line “don’t believe everything that you read”. But you can buy into the Mandiant report and it is very much worth reading as the detail level of this campaign is excellent and will give you a great view into how this campaign works.