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Cyber privateering

Cyber privateering definition

Cyber privateering refers to cyber attacks that involve state-sponsored cyber operations carried out by non-state actors. In other words, hackers are granted a mandate to carry out cyber attacks against other states. The term is derived from the historical concept of “privateering” where during times of conflict, governments granted authorization to privately-owned ships to carry out acts of piracy against enemy vessels.

See also: baseline configuration, configuration file, iot gateway, network automation

How is cyber privateering used

  • Cyber espionage. Hacker groups can be called upon to conduct espionage and steal valuable information from a foreign government.
  • Sabotage. Hackers can also conduct sabotage operations aiming to disrupt the infrastructure, economy, or military operations of another country.
  • Propaganda and disinformation. The state can also use hackers to spread misinformation in order to shift election results or as part of a psychological warfare tactic.

Examples of cyber privateering

  • China and Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs). Some Chinese hacking groups, often labeled as Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) groups, are likely working with the state to conduct various cyber attacks against foreign companies and governments.
  • Russia and the Internet Research Agency. The Internet Research Agency often called a “Russian troll farm” was created by Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Russian private military company Wagner. It is based in Russia and is best known for its influence operations during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election as well as various elections in Europe.
  • North Korea and Lazarus Group. North Korea is notorious for using hackers to intimidate companies and hack into cryptocurrency exchanges that, many believe, the state uses to fund its nuclear program.