Kompromat ( Russian: компромат, short for компрометирующий материал) is the Russian term for compromising materials about a politician or other public figure. Such materials can be used to create negative publicity, for blackmail, or for ensuring loyalty. Kompromat can be acquired from various security services, or outright forged, and then publicized by paying off a journalist.
Yesterday, news outlets around the World were eager to spread the news about compromising facts (in Russian called Kompromat) that had been collected by the Russian secret service (and without doubt also by other services) on Donald Trump. Immediately speculations were brought up, fed by opponents and hungered for by sensation and scandal paparazzi, that the future most powerful person in the World could be potentially blackmailed, and immediately confidential parts of intelligence reports are publicly available on the internet and could be the storyline for a new James Bond movie (see below). Whether these reports are real Kompromat or fake news, we will never know.
The good news first: it can be seriously doubted that Donald Trump can be blackmailed. In German there is the famous saying, that once you have been publicly embarrassed, you can behave as you wish, there is no danger of further embarrassment, in other words you have received a kind of carte blanche on public shame. We can agree, that as Donald Trump is the incarnation of political incorrectness, he has long time ago earned this carte blanche, and his followers will further cheer revelations on Russian honey traps and deal sweeteners. In reality this will kill any potential for blackmail. Even the toughest kompromat will not compromise the new President. For sure, this situation would have been much more serious given a party animal, political correct or even Mormon President would be in office.
Now to the more serious part of the story. We are seeing the tipping point, where our dependence on IT in every sector of our life is rapidly becoming our biggest threat, the Achilles heel of both the safety of the general public, but also of every individual. Influence Meddling with US elections, hacking of DNC and the kompromat on Donald Trump are just the tip of the iceberg, In reality, there is no protection of the state and by the state, there is barely any meaningful regulation and inter-country co-operation to increase the IT safety levels of our countries and us as citizens. I am convinced that this will be seen in very short time as one of the biggest scandals and acts of naivety of global politics and as a great failure of political as well as corporate leaders.
We invite you to reflect on the following topics:
- Global criminal groups and terrorists will hit: the next big terror attack will be a cyber attack. Last year we have seen many tests for attacks – on telecom infrastructure, energy grids, banking systems and hijacking of devices. Although these were already impressive attacks, many experts believe that they were only test balloons for future, much more massive attacks.
- Increased influence meddling in international political and corporate affairs: Do not believe it is only Russia. All(!) Governments who have the technological capabilities, use cyber activities to support their international policy agenda. This will increase dramatically, as the barriers for meddling go down and the tools and techniques get more refined. Whatever you see on the Government level, you will also see with a certain delay in the corporate sector.
- Loss of authenticity of information: Nobody can say or verify, whether any piece of information, news or report is authentic or not. The proliferation of so-called fake news and the labelling of true news as fake news is on the extreme rise and the individual has practically no possibility to verify any received information.
- Hostile activities against individuals and corporations: stealing of information and knowledge, break-ins into bank accounts and all other private data areas, diffamation with fake news or illegally placed documents and traces into your private areas, will be a serious threat to all individuals and corporates who are not extremely careful and/or protected.
- Dark web transactions: We are aware and we allow parts of the internet to act openly and completely outside of any legislation, and to be used for national and international drugs, narcotics and arms proliferation as well as all other kinds of illegal activities. This is a time bomb for the future.
How can one react and prepare against these threats? Practically not much. A lot of time has been lost, and the global IT/Web architecture is open and fragile. So for now, protection seems to be the best available option. On the macro level this means:
- Expect a massive international arms race in cyber war and IT defense measures
- Expect the IT security industry will finally get the real big boost
- Hopefully, the UN will start to engage and found UNITA or similar, as a special UN agency for IT regulation and protection against abuse of the global web.
And on the micro-level? As even Angela Merkels phone can be listened, consider that all phone calls, all emails, all SMS and even your Vibers and Whatsapps are hacked, listened to and surveilled and might be used against you by your own or foreign Governments, by criminals and by political or business opponents. In this case hold it with Donald Trump: write and talk less sensitive information on phone/internet. Get invested commercially into IT security and apply it for yourself, and do not put too much trust in any news, in the political or economic arena, it could be fake, or fake fake, or verified fake, or falsified truth, or simply a kompromat. You name it.