New Pirates, Old Solutions: An 18​th​ Century Approach to Cybercrime

Filip Norén


Various authors on cybersecurity have compared cyberspace to the high seas and suggested that states should contract privateers, in the form of private corporations or individuals, in order to bolster their defensive and offensive capabilities in cyberspace. This conceptual paper explores the high seas-cyberspace analogy and evaluates the extent to which it can strategically inform the battle against cybercrime. It is argued that the historical battle against piracy, characterized by its emphasis on legal frameworks, the removal of market support structures, and states’ use of privateers, offers limited lessons with regard to cybercrime. The analogy suggests that strategies against cybercrime should stress the usefulness of existing legal structures and earmark additional resources for them, while also prioritizing the establishing of specialized cybercrime courts and the hiring of former cybercriminals. Moreover, the comparison between piracy and cybercrime suggests that cybercrime should be treated as a socio-economic problem, while the historical use of privateers can be reimagined as cyber-privateering to potentially construct a new model of cyberdeterrence.

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