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Could Anonymous Get Trump Elected?

By Rob Enderle
Mar 21, 2016 9:57 AM PT

Much of the analysis that I've seen regarding the U.S. presidential election season concludes that it is progressing like the Goldwater vs. Johnson election in the 1960s, when the Republican Party torpedoed its own candidate, ensuring a Democratic Party win.

Could Anonymous Get Trump Elected?

This is happening despite statistics that suggest Hillary Clinton is an extremely weak candidate. At least, that was the case until Anonymous decided to jump into the fight to take Trump out. I think that development actually could push this divisive candidate over the top, if it goes beyond a threat and actually results in a substantive attack.

I'll explain how and close with my product of the week: the Sulon Q, a fascinating virtual reality product coming to market in a few months, which will compete with Microsoft's Hololens.

Cybersecurity Platform

One of the most interesting things about this year's campaign is that while cybersecurity -- or actually the lack of it -- coupled with nation-level cyberattacks has been highlighted as one of the biggest threats the nation will have to face this decade, it isn't included in anyone's campaign talking points.

Everyone is ignoring it -- likely because they don't understand the threat, and most voters don't get it either. Given what is going on and the number of breaches credited to foreign governments, this is kind of like no one talking about the threat Japan represented to the U.S. right before Pearl Harbor.

The threat is likely worse than what Japan represented, because back then it was believed that Japan couldn't threaten the American coast -- only Hawaii and a few military bases. Even so, taking out the largest U.S. base in the Pacific and attacking a U.S. state certainly got the country's attention, and the result certainly impacted U.S. politics.

U.S. and European politicians actually were blamed for conspiring to cause it. Imagine what is likely to happen if the U.S. is targeted by a massive cyberattack, given the government clearly is underprepared for one.

The Anonymous Factor

Anonymous is an amorphous group of people who present themselves as an organization, even though there is little evidence they actually are organized.

Historically, they have been more of an annoyance than anything else, but they have the potential to do a significant amount of damage. Donald Trump, who fights largely over Twitter, would appear to be uniquely vulnerable, because of his reliance on social media to get his message out.

He would seem to be outmatched, because he appears as an individual with an apparent lack of knowledge of cyberthreats. In short, it seems Anonymous could at the very least embarrass Trump, and at the most shut him down entirely.

Donald Trump's Cards

Like no other candidate running, Donald Trump runs a host of casinos, hotels, and other businesses -- many of which not only have huge security organizations, but also, particularly in the case of his casinos, unique capabilities to identify, track, and arrest those who attempt to do them damage, electronically or otherwise.

So, through what would be a very high visibility attack, Anonymous at the same time could remind people of the threat, and showcase Trump as the only politician who can address it. Potentially, with his resources, he could catch more of the folks attacking him than he FBI could.

That would be a layer on top of the Secret Service response, and because Trump is a national candidate, the end result would be a very public validation of two things: that cyberterrorism is a threat; and that only Trump knows how to deal with it.

Depending on the news cycle and how many people realize just how big a national threat cyberterrorism is, the end result could allow Trump to overcome the seemingly unbeatable Clinton.

Wrapping Up

We clearly are not talking enough about cyberterrorism in general, and it is really one of the biggest threats -- if not the biggest -- the U.S. faces near term. It has the potential to severely damage the nation, from shutting down or compromising financial markets to shutting down or compromising utilities like water, power and telephony. Voters should be more aggressive in finding out which presidential candidate can best address the exposure.

In addition, while Trump appears to be no more or less prepared to address this exposure with personal knowledge, he is the only candidate who actually has any defense against it -- and given his casino properties, his defense is likely one of the strongest private capabilities in the U.S.

Attacking him outright wouldn't highlight his lack of knowledge but his defense capability, and likely make voters believe that he is uniquely capable of addressing the growing fear of cyberterrorism.

Rather than hurting him -- and much like most every other attack on Trump -- this is likely to strengthen him, with the possibility of making it appear he is the only candidate who can keep the U.S. safe. If this scenario plays out, it could result in Trump winning -- the exact opposite of what Anonymous intends.

Ironically, this might make more people mad at Anonymous than if they actually were successful. That'll give you something to think about this week.

Rob Enderle's Product of the Week

I'm a big fan of the Microsoft Hololens. It represents a fundamental change in how we look at augmented reality and virtual reality. It is also incredibly well funded, and it is being actively used to actually explore Mars, even in its Alpha phase.

However, it has some limitations. The display doesn't cover the entire field of view, and it is transparent, which means virtual objects often don't look solid -- they look somewhat transparent and unsubstantial. That is actually OK for most initial business uses, but it sucks for gaming, where you want a lot more reality.

Well the Sulon Q -- largely based on AMD technology and Windows 10 (like the Hololens) -- directly addresses this shortcoming. It blocks the view of the user and uses cameras to capture the surroundings, so the graphics system can recreate it.

This results in virtual objects looking as solid as real objects, with the same capability of being able to play and move untethered in real environments without breaking a leg.

Sulon Q Headset
Sulon Q Headset

Now there is a clear offsetting shortcoming, and that is that because the Sulon Q doesn't just track but renders the entire room, the performance requirement is higher. Rather than make the virtual objects look real, it tends to make the real objects look virtual. It feels like you are in a game. That's OK initially, for gaming, but it likely will fall short of professional needs.

Both products will evolve differently, but given that my initial use likely will be gaming, the Sulon Q suddenly became my favorite -- and my product of the week.

Rob Enderle is a TechNewsWorld columnist and the principal analyst for the Enderle Group, a consultancy that focuses on personal technology products and trends. You can connect with him on Google+.

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What's your alarm level over cyberattacks on the Internet's infrastructure?
Red: A deadly cyberwar will occur -- It's when, not if.
Orange: A big one could be costly and threaten public safety.
Yellow: We need to improve cybersecurity at a faster pace.
Blue: Regional outages will become more frequent and more annoying.
Green: There's no way anyone could take out the entire Internet.