It is now a known fact that Russia meddled in the presidential elections in the U.S. in 2016 through cyber hacking and ever since then election-related cognitive hacking is continuing in the nation. The hacking has happened at three levels – informational hacking, physical hacking, and cognitive hacking.
While unauthorized illegal entry into computers and their networks to steal information is something we are well aware of, the newer target is more bothersome.
The three-dimensional segmentation of the cyberspace was first propounded by Professor Dan Kuehl from National Defense University. While traditional hacking is definitely a cause of fear for the far reaching effects they can have in compromising national security, cognitive hacking can be far worse for they can be used to manipulate the thought processes and perceptions of people. It seems now that the Russians did exactly that. At least, this is what the federal indictments in February and July suggested. It said that both Russian military personnel and civilians leveraged online tools to brainwash Americans. In this way they manipulated their voting patterns.
Now the U.S. authorities fear Russians could do the same in the midterm elections to be held in 2018.
According to certain observers, we are now seeing a new form of hybrid warfare in which internet tools are being used for spying and to spread misleading information. All these have blurred the lines between a physical warfare involving missiles, guns, and bombs and a stealthy battle by brainwashing the targeted population.