The South Korean spy agency has identified a network of 38 fake news websites run by Chinese firms operating within the country to influence public opinion.
The National Intelligence Service (NIS) said that two Chinese public relations companies, Haimai and Haixun, were behind the websites. The names and domains of the websites were similar to legitimate media outlets.
The websites not only republished content from local news outlets without consent, but also misrepresented themselves as part of the Korea Digital News Association, it said.
The NIS added that an unidentified organization had also tried to influence public opinion by distributing pro-China and anti-US content through the websites, as well as NewsWire, a Seoul-based press release distribution platform.
The network was unveiled in cooperation with private cybersecurity firms and would be shut down, NIS said, noting that the content from the fake websites was being widely shared on social media.
The agency said it was “closely monitoring China’s efforts to extend its cyber influence in Korea.”
China’s efforts to influence public opinion in South Korea comes as Seoul is increasing its security cooperation with the US and Japan.
Last week, South Korea’s NIS signed a deal with the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to boost cybersecurity cooperation.
Yesterday (November 12th), South Korea, Japan and the US also agreed to start sharing real-time data on North Korean missile launches.
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