Lynas Rare Earths Ltd, an Australian company, announced on Friday that it had been the target of a number of cyber-attacks from social media accounts possibly linked to the Chinese Communist Party. According to cyber security firm Mandiant, the primary goal of the cyber-attacks is to destabilise Western companies’ investment plans in rare earth mineral deposits.
Beijing is currently the market leader in that sector, and according to AFP, Mandiant believes they do not want to lose their position. As a result, they have been conducting deceptive information campaigns. Lynas cited one example in which Chinese social media accounts attempted to sway public opinion against a plant that the company is currently building in Texas in collaboration with the US government.
‘Every day, we see bot posts on various social media channels, and we report them every day, and it’s quite frustrating,’ Lynas CEO Amanda Lacaze told Bloomberg. ‘Bot posts are very easy to spot, and the messages are identical’.
Mandiant was the first to notice the cyberattacks, and they suspected that the ‘Dragonbridge’ campaign was the work of a ‘People’s Republic of China (PRC) network’. According to Bloomberg, the Mandiant report also named Canada’s Appia Rare Earths & Uranium Corp as a target.
Minerals have recently gained popularity due to their use in the production of clean energy and military equipment. As a result, China is eager to maintain its position as the leading producer of rare earths, which is thought to be one of the driving forces behind the recent attacks.