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2020 General Election Results to Directly Impact Tech Industry2020 General Election Results to Directly Impact Tech Industry

Regardless of outcome,e xtreme pressure against Chinese vendors is likely to continue.

Edward Gately

November 3, 2020

5 Min Read
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The outcome of the 2020 General Election will have serious repercussions for the technology industry, according to GlobalData.

And the repercussions will reverberate not just in the United States, but globally, it said. These repercussions will run across multiple areas. Those include immigration policies governing skilled tech employees; potential regulations against large cloud service companies like Facebook and Google; R&D funding priorities; and data privacy regulations.

In addition, the 2020 General Election results could have major implications for ongoing trade negotiations between the United States and China. Those could impact global technology supply chains.

John Byrne is GlobalData’s service director for telecom technology and software.

GlobalData's John Byrne

GlobalData’s John Byrne

“It is a cliché to say elections have consequences,” he said. “However, in this election the consequences are perhaps greater than they have been in any U.S. election cycle in recent memory. This is particularly so in regards to the impact on the technology industry globally. Policy and regulatory decisions alongside new legislative imperatives for the next four years at least will be significantly determined by the outcome. Those impacts will be felt by the entire industry, including hardware and software vendors, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple, and network operators.”

Outcomes and Impact

If the Republicans win the presidency, and control of both houses of Congress, expect visa denial rates for skilled immigrants to remain high, GlobalData said. Denial rates already have risen during the past few years.

By contrast, under a full Democratic scenario, greater immigration would be likely. However, new safeguards would mean they are unlikely to return to levels seen during the Obama administration.

“The issue of immigration has enormous consequences for continued tech innovation in the U.S.,” Byrne said. ” The H1-B visa in particular has been a bone of contention. Depending on your viewpoint, it represents an abuse of American workers or an opportunity to garner new tech talent that might otherwise go to Europe or Asia.”

Furthermore, under a Republican president and executive branch, regulation of cloud service giants is likely to focus on issues of perceived suppression of conservative viewpoints on social media. By contrast, Democratic control would likely bring pressure to support stricter antitrust actions against the likes of Amazon, Facebook and Google.

“There is no question that the pressure is going to continue to grow against (large cloud service firms) and social media,” Byrne said. “The difference is whether that pressure focuses primarily on Republican concerns over censorship or on Democratic concern over unduly large market power that stifles competition.”

Pressure on China to Continue Regardless

Under a Republican president and regardless of which party controls the House and Senate, extreme pressure against Chinese vendors is likely to continue, GlobalData said. This would lead to a division of supply chains between Western and Asian suppliers. However, U.S regulations against certain Chinese vendors are likely to remain in place.

“Regardless of the election outcome, pressure against Chinese vendors will continue,” Byrne said. “The larger issue is whether the current trade disputes with China result in permanent changes to the supply chains, as appears likely under a Republican administration, or whether tensions ratchet down under a more normalized trade environment, which could largely maintain the status quo.”

Phishing Attacks on Election Domains

In other 2020 General Election news, Valimail reports a high volume of impersonation-based email phishing attacks that utilize domains involved in the election.

The report highlights a lack of adherence to email authentication standards for email domains associated with campaigns, PACs, government offices and election system manufacturers. Valimail found most domains were unprotected from email spoofing. That means they could easily be impersonated by attackers pretending to play some role in the election infrastructure.

Alexander García-Tobar is Valimail‘s CEO and co-founder.

“It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which …

… malicious actors seek to disrupt the election by spreading misinformation on election day, such as false instructions on where to vote, fake notices that the polls have closed early, or intimidating messages warning people to stay home,” he said. “In fact, the FBI reported on a similar intimidation scheme, using emails impersonating a white supremacist group, just a couple of weeks ago. It would be equally easy for bad actors to send emails impersonating a state’s secretary of state or a local elections official. And such emails would be even more convincing to recipients given the authority of the apparent sender.”

In other cases, emails might impersonate a trusted news source, García-Tobar said. It may pose as an official news story calling the election for one candidate or another. These emails, if distributed widely, could sow confusion by casting doubt on the outcome.

DMARC Needed for All Domains

The report makes a strong case for a widely used industry standard called domain-based message authentication, reporting and conformance (DMARC). It prevents attacks in which malicious third parties try to send harmful email using a counterfeit address.

Valimail's Alexander García-Tobar

Valimail’s Alexander García-Tobar

“There have been several significant reported examples of impersonation-based phishing, as there were in both 2016 and 2018,” García-Tobar said. “It’s hard to tell whether the rate has increased, however, since most domains involved in the election are not configured with DMARC. And therefore the domain owners have no awareness of impersonation that may be happening using their domains.”

Valimail is calling on federal and state officials to prioritize DMARC for all domains involved in elections. The federal government has already done this for federal agency domains. Valimail manages DMARC for organizations globally.

“Impersonation could easily continue to be a factor in the coming days and weeks, particularly if the results of the election are in doubt or contested,” García-Tobar said. “The same techniques that an attacker might use on election day would also work to sow doubt, confusion and misinformation in the days and weeks following the official election date.”

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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