Cybersecurity hugely important
This country's top intelligence officials have unanimously pointed the finger at Russia.
Testimony at a U.S. Senate hearing and the release of a newly declassified intelligence report lend credence to the widespread suspicion that Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to interfere with the recent presidential election.
It's no surprise that the Russians or other foreign countries might want to influence elections in this country. But the revelations should spur high-ranking officials in both the government and the two major political parties to erect the appropriate high-tech defenses needed to fend off future attacks.
"Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary (Hillary) Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for President-elect (Donald) Trump," the intelligence report states.
It has been clear for quite a while that some foreign entity, probably the Russians, were responsible for hacking into the computer files of Democratic Party officials.
Those actions, no doubt, contributed to the WikiLeaks publication of material that proved embarrassing to Democrats during the 2016 campaign. The disclosures included private emails from John Podesta, a top Clinton political aide, that indicated party officials were saying one thing in private and the opposite in private.
Suffice it to say, the GOP took advantage of the disclosures, and they may well have contributed to Secretary Clinton's stunning loss in the presidential race.
Then again, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said there is no indication that vote-counting systems were targeted or compromised in any way. Any impact, he said, was limited to how voters reacted to news reports and how it affected their impressions of the two major party candidates, Trump and Clinton.
However limited the impact was, the United States cannot tolerate even the slightest efforts to undermine the democratic process in this country. President Barack Obama recently, among other things, ordered a group of Russian diplomats out of the country as a partial penalty for the misconduct.
That's the least the United States should do as retaliation for cyberintrusions. U.S. Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, noted that cyberattacks are not much different than any other kind of military attacks and could be construed as acts of war.
Obviously, the United States is not going to go to war with Russia over what occurred. But it must certainly have ways of deterring the Russians from engaging in similar misconduct.
Of course, that depends on how President-elect Trump responds, and he has been notable for expressing skepticism about the intelligence reports. Perhaps that's because Trump is concerned about Democrats using the Russia's efforts as a means of questioning the legitimacy of his election.
But what happened on Nov. 8 is past. Trump will be sworn into office on Jan. 20, and his most important duty as president is to protect this country against all challenges, including cyberintrusions by countries that include Russia, China and Iran.
Despite his unnecessary defensiveness on the issue, Trump seemed to recognize that duty after meeting with top intelligence officials Friday for a briefing.
Trump said the United States needs to "combat and stop" cyberattacks, and coming up with a plan to do so will be among his top priorities within his first 100 days in office.
The question, of course, is whether it's even possible to come up with an impenetrable defense to such cyberattacks.
The United States and all the countries of the world have entered uncharted waters.
What's impenetrable one week may not be the next. It's a constant game of cat and mouse in the hacking community, whether the cyberwarriors represent a nation, terrorist organization or merely themselves. The untold dangers raised by these kinds of cyberintrusions make this national security issue a top priority.