Russia, China, Cyber War, and Letters of Marque and Reprisal

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Russia, China, Cyber War, and Letters of Marque and Reprisal

Industrial Defender CEO Jim Crowley was featured on this week, discussing the historical precedence for cybersecurity aggression by state actors like Russia and China.

“Russia, China and other adversarial governments hide behind criminal organizations or secret military operations to masks their true intentions and deny culpability, but these nation states are the force behind these state-sanctioned attacks on the US homeland and our allies. Nothing happens in Xi’s China or Putin’s Russia without their awareness, tacit agreement, and likely, a cut of the action.”

“There is historical precedence between commercial and geopolitical competitors for this type of disruptive activity— we just need to gaze back to the age of sail. For many centuries, governments used third-party commercial incentives to disrupt their adversaries. Disrupting your competitors’ shipping and ocean-based supply chain, is not unlike the hacking we are experiencing today. Seizing or sinking ships, and capturing “prizes” is very similar to state-sanctioned ransomware gangs holding up US companies for bitcoin payments. Pay us the bounty, mate, and we will release your ship (or data). If you resist, we will sink you (or delete your system’s data).”

“The legal mechanism that was used in the 18th and 19th centuries for state sanctioning of this “privateering” activity by entrepreneurial civilian captains was the Letter of Marque and Reprisal. Letters of Marque, granted by a sponsoring government, provided legal cover to merchant vessels to arm themselves and sail out in search of prizes. If an adversary’s ship was captured, it was brought to an Admiralty Court, and if deemed a legal capture, it would be sold with its cargo, with the proceeds being split between the merchant privateer crew and a cut of 10% for the government. Sound familiar? Many sea-born entrepreneurs including the infamous Captain Kidd were both pirates (unsanctioned raiders) and Privateers sanctioned by their home government.”

To read the full article Russia, China, Cyber War, and Letters of Marque and Reprisal, visit

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