Accession Number:



Sea Dogs in Cyberspace: Exploring the Employment of Privateers in the Cyber Domain

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Master's Thesis]

Corporate Author:

US Army School for Advanced Military Studies

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



During the age of sail, the employment of letters of marque and reprisal were a legitimate form of naval warfare, enhancing a states maritime power while disrupting its enemys economic capacity to wage war. Privateers were state-sponsored pirates-civilian auxiliaries commissioned by authorized government officials to attack an enemy nations merchant fleet. Letters of marque and reprisal issued by their government legitimized their piratical activities. With the cover of such documents, privateers preyed upon on any vessel flying the flag of an enemy nation. Governments paid nothing to these mariners during war, but gained from their exploits against enemies, usually taking portions of prizes seized from enemy vessels. This monograph follows pragmatist methodology and uses a historical analogy to compare characteristics of privateering to a recent state-sponsored cyber operation. It also explores the possibility of privateers in cyberspace operating on behalf of American interests. This paper does not investigate analogy to claim that history repeats itself, but instead evaluates whether and how historical concepts can be useful when interpreting contemporary events.


Subject Categories:

  • Unconventional Warfare
  • Administration and Management

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]