Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Noah Shachtman’s Pirates of the ISPs

Two posts in one day? I'm on fire! It's easy to blog when something interesting happens, and I can talk about it.

I wanted to mention the publication of Pirates of the ISPs: Tactics for Turning Online Crooks Into International Pariahs by Noah Shachtman, acting in his capacity as a Nonresident Fellow for Foreign Policy in the 21st Century Defense Initiative at The Brookings Institution. I read and commented on an earlier draft, and I think you will find Noah's paper interesting. From the introduction:

Cybercrime today seems like a nearly insoluble problem, much like piracy was centuries ago. There are steps, however, that can be taken to curb cybercrime’s growth—and perhaps begin to marginalize the people behind it.

Some of the methods used to sideline piracy provide a useful, if incomplete, template for how to get it done. Shutting down the markets for stolen treasure cut off the pirates’ financial lifeblood; similar pushes could be made against the companies that support online criminals.

Piracy was eventually brought to heel when nations took responsibility for what went on within its borders. Based on this precedent, cybercrime will only begin to be curbed when greater authority—and accountability—is exercised over the networks that form the sea on which these modern pirates sail.

I agree with this. My original comments to Noah emphasized that not all malicious activity on the Internet is crime, nor is it conducted by criminals. For example, I wince whenever I see the term APT in the same sentence as crime or criminals (never mind seeing the "cyber" prefix). As long as you keep Noah's emphasis on true crime in mind while you read the paper, I think you will find it compelling. Great work Noah!


Anonymous said...

Even in regards to the state-sanctioned malicious activity, the analogy is apt - the Privateers to the outright criminal Pirates.

R D Smith said...

I agrre with Richard's comments that some of malicious activity is not the work of criminals. We also have to consider the modern day "privateers." In the days of pirates, a privateer is a private person or ship authorized by a government by letters of marque to attack foreign shipping during wartime. Today, the packets don't fly a flag so we can't tell if it's the skull and crossbones or the flag of an "enemy" nation.