This article is the first in a series on the "Future of Politics" that investigates the effects of election 2016 on the future of policy, parties, candidates, campaign style and the overall political environment going forward.
Verbal attacks in politics are nothing new.
Indeed, election 2016 could be considered a turning point in the history of America's electoral process as brazen hacks on the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, carried out by Russia, according to the Obama administration, were "intended to interfere with the U.S. election process."
The attacks that Hillary Clinton has blamed in part on her Electoral College loss to Donald Trump raise a critical question: will cyber-attacks targeting political organizations and prominent political players become the new normal?
I fear the answer is yes.
Though Trump has so far denied Russian involvement, prominent politicians on both sides of the aisle are calling for an investigation. That's a crucial step going forward. To better prepare for the possibility of cyber-assaults on our voting outcomes, we need to understand what sort of tactics were used in past attacks and what kind of new malicious strategies might we see in future. And we must devise strategies to counter them.
In cyberspace, the past is prelude to the future. The DNC hacks are a prime example of efforts to alter election outcomes without having to tamper with voting machines themselves. This case illustrates what happens when information is disclosed that undermines the credibility of an institution, in this case the Democratic Party.
Some of the hackers behind DNC attack may have had access to the organization's network for about a year according to DNC officials, giving them ample time to hunt for the most damaging documents without fear of detection.
Now is the time to guard against subterranean attacks that could be going on in other political organizations and structures, from state capitals to the U.S. Capitol.
Creating "fake news" is another type of voter manipulation aimed at influencing public opinion. Independent researchers claim the Russians were behind the creation of a number of misleading articles with the goal of harming the Clinton campaign, including bogus pieces about Hillary's fatal health problems, using botnets, networks of websites and social media accounts to distribute them.
Facebook, a major disseminator of fake news during the election, is taking steps to limit distribution on its site. Other sites must follow its lead.