by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Communist China is behind a massive online disinformation campaign aimed at undermining the upcoming U.S. midterm elections, according to findings by a cybersecurity group.
China is using a network of social media accounts and altered news articles to “sow division both between the U.S. and its allies and within the U.S. political system itself,” according to a threat assessment by Mandiant, a cybersecurity and intelligence organization that works with governments and the public sector. China’s latest efforts to undermine the American democratic process come amid parallel attempts by Russia and Iran to interfere with the upcoming elections.
The CCP influence operation, dubbed Dragonbridge, is attracting concern in the cybersecurity sector for its “aggressive attempts to discredit the U.S. democratic process, including attempts to discourage Americans from voting in the 2022 U.S. midterm elections,” according to Mandiant’s research. The organization assesses “with high confidence” that the online campaign is “operating in support of the political interests of the People’s Republic of China.”
Efforts by foreign actors to meddle in the upcoming elections have fueled concerns among federal authorities, including the FBI, which recently warned that an Iranian government-backed hacking collective is working to target U.S. entities. Russia also “is working to amplify doubts about the integrity of U.S. elections” as voters head to the polls next week, according to the Associated Press.
The CCP’s Dragonbridge operation has similar hallmarks to those of other foreign actors, according to Mandiant. Dragonbridge, through a network of online social media accounts that obfuscate their true identity, is promoting “narratives that appeared intended to discredit and undermine the U.S. political system.”
In September, for instance, Dragonbridge-affiliated accounts posted an English-language video on online platforms that included “content attempting to discourage Americans from voting in the upcoming U.S. midterm elections.”