Monday, June 13, 2011

When banks and governments are fair game

With all the talk about "attribution" of blame before we send our licensed and bonded cyber privateers into "looting mode," there are certain black-and-white cases where a bonding authority would have few qualms about authorizing money confiscation. In fact, a "Robin Hood" hacker might not find it too difficult to rationalize getting these guys right now, figuring the risk-reward equation would be balanced by getting caught and being tried by a sympathetic jury. So where is this "low-hanging fruit" to be found?

Read the Brian Krebs posting today on the shady bankers who clear credit card transactions from cyber criminals and who operate under the tacit approval of the Russian government. Mr. Krebs characterizes Russian government involvement and that of complicit banks, even U.S. banks, in his concluding paragraph:
As the academic paper and my reporting make clear, the traditional methods of exposing these programs — “outing” the merchant banks and shining a spotlight on the main actors — has little effect when the organizers live in countries that willingly turn a blind eye to this activity. I’ve been eager to write more about this treatise since it was first featured in a New York Times story last month. In a future blog post, I will discuss the potential impact of the main policy alternative outlined in that paper: Convincing a handful of card-issuing banks here in the United States to stop processing payments for a handful of merchant accounts known to be tied to illicit online pharmacies.
How do you convince "…a handful of card-issuing banks here in the United States…" to clean up their acts? You loot them and then make public the "parley discussions" they invoke under the Cyber Privateer Code of Conduct. Ditto for the online parley invoked by the Russian government.

If they had a government-issued Letter of Marque and Reprisal (LoMaR) and the go-ahead from a bonding authority, I'll bet a cyber privateering organization could easily net a billion dollars on this one.

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Implementation suggestions for THE MORGAN DOCTRINE are most welcome. What are the "Got'chas!"? What questions would some future Cyber Privateering Czar have to answer about this in a Senate confirmation hearing?