Category Archives: Sailing

Can You Trust

The site has launched ahead of schedule and right at the top it has a “Here’s how you know” link to explain why you should trust this “official website“:

Does it seem safe? While they make a couple sound points, there’s more to it.

Do you also trust that a .gov was developed using a secure lifecycle, is operated safely and that it hasn’t been compromised by commercial motive? In other words, is there high integrity of the data on the pages as much as there may be integrity of the source identity?

I strongly recommend developing quality measures for the former (hard) much more than the latter (easy).

It reminds me of another .gov launch not so very long ago that was subjected to extreme partisan yet technical bickering…

The “” website at the end of 2013 was ruthlessly attacked by Republican lobby groups and “experts” such as TrustedSec. Here’s a good example from headlines in early 2014:

Source: WFB, 2014

Someone barking that the site is “100 percent insecure” and trending worse seems factually false, no? It was a gross misrepresentation for political gain if not an outright lie.

In fact, while TrustedSec used the press to spread a rumor that was 100% unsafe they were actually telling congress in testimony

It is accurate that no system can ever remain one hundred percent protected against threats.

Could this kind of absolutism fallacy and obvious gaslighting be grounds for being disbarred from practicing security though?

No, because let’s be honest the security industry has no baseline of integrity for meaning being delivered in a message.

Sound harsh?

Consider that the TrustedSec CEO Dave Kennedy was on a highly-politicized PR campaign to discourage people from getting health insurance, mugging with Michele Bachmann (infamous religious extremist who advocated for dropping bombs as “one of the greatest acts of peace” while simultaneously trying to block peace agreements because she believed they could usher in World War III and the horror of… dropping bombs).

Source: Twitter

Kennedy’s obvious political self-promotion at this time went from hugging the extremist bomb-advocate Bachmann back stage at FOX news to literally spreading “100 percent” nonsense and FUD… claiming even would hack anyone who dared to use it for their life-saving healthcare needs.

…saying vulnerabilities remain on “everything from hacking someone’s computer so when you visit the website it actually tries to hack your computer back, all the way to being able to extract email addresses, users names—first name, last name—[and] locations.”

“Actually tries to hack your computer back”?

This is nails-on-chalkboard stuff, only made worse by him saying the threat scale goes “all the way to being able” to know your name. So your name has been leaked proving that you’re in America and need healthcare insurance just like everyone else? That’s “all the way”?

And then there was the false claim made on FOX news that large numbers of probes of a .gov website indicates it already has been hacked or will be soon.

Source: Fox News, 19 Nov 2013 (via Utah’s Senator Mike Lee)

And this nonsense of course had the expected reaction putting people in a frothy partisan panic:

…you couldn’t pay me a million $ to go anywhere near that website #FullRepeal #ImpeachObama #MakeDCListen

That’s a 2014 reaction tweet from @livinbythelake. Today that same account is retweeting the wife of the Executive Editor for the Washington Examiner that COVID19 is a communist plot.

While clearly a “poison squad of whispering women” show they are coordinated in amplifying a fear narrative from TrustedSec as right-wing misinformation, the actual flaws were being misrepresented.

Probes ought not be directly correlated to breaches without some intelligence. That’s like saying evidence of water around a floating boat means you should guess it soon will spring a leak.


Here was another clear sign TrustedSec’s Kennedy was speaking completely out of his mind on this issue.

His examples of “models” were sites later breached at FAR WORSE scale than

When it comes to securing personal information online, Kennedy cited Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter as models for the industry.

Facebook?! Are you FFFFFing kidding me.


More than 540 million records about Facebook users were publicly exposed on Amazon’s cloud computing service…

Remember this was TrustedSec CEO testifying to Congress in November 2013 that Facebook should be held up as a model for the industry to protect privacy. This is literally what he said to Congress:

…the federal government isn’t known for having super secure web sites or even having adequate security to protect U.S. related sensitive data.

Oh really?

Facebook had just been breached in June 2013 leaking 6 MILLION records for over a year when this highly politicized testimony was filed alongside a poisonous PR campaign.

Does Facebook ever sound like any sort of real “model” for an industry to you? Facebook always has been known for failing at security and being a threat to U.S. data. It’s almost inconceivable that someone in 2013 was recommending them as a model, and it’s incredibly suspicious for anyone claiming the title “TrustedSec”.

Come on people, let’s look at this in context.

TrustedSec’s CEO was spreading on partisan news campaigns that the US government website is “100 percent insecure” and that everyone instead should carelessly put their data in Facebook (foreign adversary) hands?

Here’s how I described Facebook to everyone reading this blog in 2011 why I deleted my account in 2009:

…private company funded by Russians without any transparency that most likely hopes to profit from your loss (of privacy)… if Facebook is dependent on Zuckerberg their users are screwed.

That’s a full two years before the “TrustedSec” CEO was on TV telling Americans to hand their most sensitive data to the Russians instead of their own government.

Facebook’s massive unprecedented failures of safety (gross negligence if not incompetance) were never hard to find, and have only worsened over time:

Am I missing some? Surely this alleged “model” couldn’t have been any worse of a recommendation.

The icing on this history cake is that TrustedSec’s testimony gave milquetoast recommendations for fixing that read like they were pulled directly from a 2-minute introduction to information security.

Fix the current security problems on the web site, which pose a high or critical risk… Develop a security operations center and ensure effective controls are in place… Perform end-to-end testing to benchmark the existing risk towards the infrastructure and take appropriate action…

It’s so vague and generic as to be completely unhelpful.

Here’s what the TrustedSec guide to marine safety probably looks like: if you see or hear water you must be sinking, take appropriate action.

Let’s recount.

After five years reported about 10 million people had received health-care coverage (essential to quality of life) while only as many as 75,000 people may have had sensitive information breached. Even that amount is disputed, so where’s the giant disaster predicted?

Headlines by 2017 were “Obamacare is working well” no thanks to TrustedSec doing its best to tell people to stay away. popularity increased dramatically to 56%, no thanks to TrustedSec doing its best to tell people to stay away.

So, will the right-wing lobbyist “hackers” put on suits and ties to be wined-and-dined by FOX news again to spread FUD about this new health-oriented .gov site being a threat?

Facebook, the darling of the Republican lobbyists and extremists intent on destroying Obamacare, over the same time delivered the worst security practices and breaches in history (on top of destroying quality of life and being implicated in atrocity crimes).

Why so bad?

Basic American history offered us a good insight into “experts” like Dave Kennedy stumping in 2013 for the Confederate Party, even predicting escalation to the violence seen last year.

ObamaCare cannot be accepted. No matter that it was passed by Congress, signed by the President, found constitutional by the Supreme Court, and ratified by the people when they re-elected President Obama. It cannot be allowed to stand, and so the tactics for destroying it get ever more extreme. The point of violence has not yet been reached, but the resistance is still young.

How dangerous was it in 2013 for a security “expert” to tell people not to sign up for healthcare from a .gov site?

Very dangerous, made far worse by telling them to trust Facebook instead. We can think of extremists like Bachmann telling us that dropping bombs was her model for peace like Kennedy telling us that using Facebook was his model for privacy.

So back to today, how dangerous will it be if someone says avoid .gov and don’t get test kits or vaccinations during this pandemic?

Read more 2014 analysis of history for the answer.

Our modern Confederates are quick to tell the rest of us that we don’t understand them because we don’t know our American history. And they’re right. If you knew more American history, you would realize just how dangerous these people are.

So it all begs the question who do you trust and what does it mean when you see that you are using a .gov site? History has the answers.

Related: Timeline of Amazon breaches and timeline of Twitter breaches, neither doing nearly as well in trust as has this whole time.

USS Pueblo Capture by North Korea: Weak Translation to Blame?

USS Pueblo at the War Museum, Pyongyang

An inability to translate clear signals is perhaps the most interesting lesson I’ve found from an analysis of North Korea’s 1968 capture of the USS Pueblo spy ship.

The following paragraph comes from unclassified CIA files: Studies in Intelligence Vol 59, No. 1 (Extracts, March 2015).

The ship would gain little insight or warning from monitoring the North’s clear-voice communications because the rusty language skills of two Korean linguists belatedly assigned to the ship’s SIGINT detachment were not up to the job of rapidly translating fast-moving tactical traffic. At a tactical level, NSA observed that had the linguists been qualified they would have understood a full 20 minutes before the first shots were fired at Pueblo that North Korean patrol boats were maneuvering to fire.

The CIA might be making a subtle yet very poignant argument that all the best high-tech in the world doesn’t amount to a hill of beans when basic skills and wisdom for placement and use are missing.

As a corollary, someone thought it a good idea to mount exposed machine guns on the high deck of this “oceanographic research” vessel — too small to defend against threats, too large to be denied, and completely exposed to ice and enemy fire in a way nobody ever could want to use in bone-chilling hostile waters.

USS Pueblo

The CIA also has pointed out key material for stolen cryptography machines were leaked to the KGB around the same time by a US Navy Chief Warrant Officer, John Walker.

For a KGB station chief personally to meet a prospective agent was unprecedented, but Solomatin spent the next two hours talking privately with Walker. The American favorably impressed him by saying nothing about love for communism, which most phonies emphasized. This was strictly business.

That wasn’t a backdoor risk from engineering, but rather a front-door insider threat, made possible due to weakness in key management processes.

Because the KW-7 used key-lists it was considered expendable as long as the monthly key-list cards themselves were not compromised. […] KW-7 cryptographic machines were most certainly lost prior to the unit that was aboard
Pueblo. […] he one thing that the Soviets or the East Germans did not obtain was the key-lists. They may have possessed a few key-cards at various times but John Walker provided the constant flow that was needed to make penetration of US Naval communications by the Soviets such a continuing success. […] The flaw in the system was the assumption that the outdated key-cards had been destroyed. Walker certified he had destroyed the cards, when in actuality he simply took them and gave them to the Soviets. No one verified that Walker had indeed destroyed the previous month’s cards.

I find this all worth consideration today given how journalists repeatedly cast a negative light on the chief of security at platforms like Facebook (e.g. Alex Stamos), who clearly and repeatedly failed to deploy basic proficiency in spaces where information risks were known to be the highest.

Did the NSA come to any similar conclusions as the CIA about this fundamental failure in risk monitoring (skill for clear-voice translation), let alone management of how and where crypto should sail or not?

As I stood there Don Peppard came up behind me and asked if I had any idea of where we were. I said that I didn’t have the foggiest idea. When we’d left Japan and headed north, my knowledge of geography must have been on hold — it simply never dawned on me that the only countries west of us had to be China, Korea or Russia. Where were we?

On 28 July 1969, a document in the NSA files called “Report on the Assessment of Cryptographic Damage“, offered itself as the final assessment of the incident:

Source: NSA Declassified Documents

That rosy picture of risk definitely wasn’t carried into the 2015 CIA files, which argue significant damage was done by compromise of intelligence gathering materials as well as the link to Walker.

Congress was on to these things right away in their 1969 “Inquiry Into the U.S.S. Pueblo and EC-121 Plane Incidents: Hearings, Ninety-first Congress, First Session” (US Government Printing Office, page 729):

The National Security Agency, which questioned the risk of the Pueblo mission, had neither the responsibility nor the authority to do so. […] There is a great difference of opinion at high intelligence levels as to whether or not the loss of the Pueblo was very serious in terms of our national security and national intelligence effort.

The NSA today offers readers a raft (no pun intended) of related documents available to the public, which purports to be lessons learned.

Indeed, much of this history is directly relevant to the nature of problems faced by security officers today.

I just don’t see the clear-eyed analysis from the NSA. And in current context I wonder if anyone at Facebook security (often hired out of the NSA) thought about the Pueblo incident before claiming they didn’t anticipate basic translation skill or insider threats would be so important given all their fancy communication equipment being repurposed today in hostile countries.

If Trust is Good for Business, Who Defines Fairness in Vulnerability?

An neuroscience article from 2017 in HBR lays out the premise that improving trust has direct and immediate benefits to productivity:

Compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, 40% less burnout.

This study was based upon “an amount of money to send to a stranger via computer” and also claims it found an absolute observed causation.

This research even took me to the rain forest of Papua New Guinea, where I measured oxytocin in indigenous people to see if the relationship between oxytocin and trust is universal. (It is.)

I want to get back to that point in a minute, but first, I noticed that exposing vulnerabilities is one of their key recommendations for building trust when running a business.

Show vulnerability: Leaders in high-trust workplaces ask for help from colleagues instead of just telling them to do things. My research team has found that this stimulates oxytocin production in others, increasing their trust and cooperation. Asking for help is a sign of a secure leader—one who engages everyone to reach goals. Jim Whitehurst, CEO of open-source software maker Red Hat, has said, “I found that being very open about the things I did not know actually had the opposite effect than I would have thought. It helped me build credibility.” Asking for help is effective because it taps into the natural human impulse to cooperate with others.

This tracks to the story I wrote about here before where the British in WWII undermined Nazi morale using such a “show vulnerability” tactic.

…the BBC was choosing to broadcast detailed news of Britain’s military setbacks. The decision was part of a deliberate strategy to win the hearts and minds of the German people…

Now back to Papua New Guinea and the indigenous people. If trust is universal, that doesn’t necessarily mean money fits the model. An article way back in 2013 made the salient point that modern psychology tends to be heavily biased towards post-industrial value systems.

At the heart of most of that research was the implicit assumption that the results revealed evolved psychological traits common to all humans, never mind that the test subjects were nearly always from the industrialized West. Henrich realized that if the Machiguenga results stood up, and if similar differences could be measured across other populations, this assumption of universality would have to be challenged.

The results being talked about are this: not all people play the prisoner dilemma game the same way. People living in the Amazon Basin jungle regions of southeastern Peru had a fascinating take on trust.

When he began to run the game it became immediately clear that Machiguengan behavior was dramatically different from that of the average North American. To begin with, the offers from the first player were much lower. In addition, when on the receiving end of the game, the Machiguenga rarely refused even the lowest possible amount. “It just seemed ridiculous to the Machiguenga that you would reject an offer of free money,” says Henrich. “They just didn’t understand why anyone would sacrifice money to punish someone who had the good luck of getting to play the other role in the game.”

Believing someone else has luck in getting to be the winner is a collaborative and holistic view, much like seeing a team mate score a goal. But who is on which team, or is it all just one team? A new book called “The Social Instinct: How Cooperation Shaped the World” makes it sound like the Machiguenga are on to something:

If we think about society as a whole, we can think of nepotism, corruption, and bribery—not normally words that bring cooperation to mind, yet all describe some form of cooperation. Nepotism is helping a family member; corruption is forming a collaboration with another individual that, nevertheless, has a cost to society. So, global or societal cooperation is always under threat from more local cooperation, which affects our collective welfare. The big challenge for us is to find ways to cooperate to generate larger societal benefits and not just local benefits.

That can read completely backwards unless you acknowledge the Machiguenga are operating on a local level while thinking about larger societal benefits, whereas larger society is thinking the opposite. Another way of putting that reversal is the Mission 101 in the Horn of Africa, or even the French resistance in WWII: small local cells of thinkers cooperated in order to generate larger societal benefits while under occupation by Nazis (who tried to elevate their own status based on distrust, spreading corruption on a platform that redirected society benefits to a very small group).

So it begs the question if you ask for help and show vulnerability, how do you tell whether you are on the same team, or the right team? It reminds me of the lesson “Stop Trying to Raise Successful Kids: And start raising kind ones.

However much we praise kindness and caring, we’re not actually showing our kids that we value these traits. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, then, that kindness appears to be in decline. A rigorous analysis of annual surveys of American college students showed a substantial drop from 1979 to 2009 in empathy and in imagining the perspectives of others. Over this period, students grew less likely to feel concern for people less fortunate than themselves—and less bothered by seeing others treated unfairly. It’s not just that people care less; they seem to be helping less, too.

The authors suggest popularity tests in American society are growing imbalanced, measurably dragged away from kindness and towards artifice (status).

Psychologists distinguish between two paths to popularity: status (which derives from being dominant and commanding attention) and likability (which comes from being friendly and kind). […] We tell our own children that they shouldn’t hang out with the popular kids who sneer and laugh when a classmate trips in the cafeteria. They should get to know the kids who help pick up her tray.

Let me take this even further and suggest the proper study of history is inherently about disclosing vulnerability, a shared attempt to quickly find flaws and correct them where everyone theoretically could be on the same team. Kindness and caring would stem from greater levels of trust, however that status thing often gets in the way like a siren song calling sailors to crash upon the rocks.

Here’s a 2021 opinion piece on a 1973 report called “‘Lessons’ of the Past: The Use and Misuse of History in American Foreign Policy”, which credits Taiye Selasi (a founder of Afropolitanism) with vulnerable thought:

It presented viewpoints I had not fully considered and reinforced the obvious but important lesson that our own thinking improves when we expose ourselves to voices and ideas we don’t typically encounter. What if we are wrong? While they rarely say so out loud, the best scholars, analysts, and decision-makers always wonder. Perhaps, however, we are asking the wrong question. History demonstrates time and again that, despite great effort, we will be wrong as often as not. The past demonstrates that world politics is so complex, historical processes so interdependent, that we should always expect the unexpected. Marc Bloch reminds us that “history is neither watchmaking not cabinet construction” but “an endeavor towards better understanding and, consequently, a thing in movement.” The real question — and the true benefit of engaging with the past — is how we will respond when we are wrong.

I especially relate to that last point. Sometimes when I confidently present a take on history, especially in public presentations, I am asked how dare I claim to have the only perspective on an event. Just look to the left at “popular blog posts” for an example of what they are talking about.

To this critic I always try to reply it’s the opposite, as I see the study of history much like tuning a sailboat in danger of running aground.

Like finding a vulnerability in someone’s map or chart for a destination, I’m not claiming to be replacing their destination with my own. My claim usually is to have found a vulnerability and present a transparent and repeatable falsification test to show that we all can improve our own perspectives and arrive more safely, no matter where we are headed (together or not).

How people respond when they are proven wrong is an excellent test not only of trust, but of their sense of fairness.

Perhaps there is no better introduction to this topic than the 1949 book by Marc Bloc “The Historian’s Craft: Reflections on the Nature and Uses of History and the Techniques and Methods of Those Who Write It”

This is a work that argues constantly for a wider, more human history. For a history that describes how and why people live and work together. There is a living, breathing connection between the past and the present and it is the historian’s responsibility to do it justice.

Bloch joined the French Resistance rather than escape, writing on the nature of history while under occupation by Nazis and without access to libraries or colleagues. He was executed by firing squad in 1944, his book published posthumously. His story is a perfect example of the duality of trust and vulnerability, within a context of threat to life itself. Imagine how productive he could have been if he had been even more trusted at that time.

Japanese attack after Pearl Harbor was thrown off by change to American code

The WarZone has a back-and-forth analysis of a second raid on Pearl Harbor, by long-range “flying boat” bombers from Japan, that leaves the reader (or maybe it’s just me) scratching their head.

They had been able to intercept and read U.S. weather reports that would have helped find a window with clear weather over Pearl Harbor. A change in the American codes cut them off from that information and meant the H8Ks were now going to be flying through clouds and rain. Regardless of the U.S. intel misstep, at a distance of around 200 miles from Hawaii, the flying boats were picked up by two U.S. radar stations in Hawaii, and P-40 fighters were scrambled from the island to intercept them. Though they had no airborne radar of their own to warn them of this response, the Japanese intruders were cloaked by darkness and thick clouds and managed to slip through the defenses, arriving over Oahu at around 15,000 feet early in the morning of March 4. Although the night and poor weather offered the IJN aircraft protection, the downside was that their crews now had to find their targets visually.

Open questions:

  • What rain? Weather records for the month of May 1942 say “total of 0.01 inches of rain”.
  • If darkness and clouds were credited with mission success on long-range approach, was that a necessary sacrifice of accuracy in the attack? I mean did the Japanese want cloud cover more than not?
  • Even in clear weather Oahu was in total darkness/lockdown after December 1941. What visuals would they have relied upon?
  • Why couldn’t the Japanese predict weather on their own, given their battery of weather stations? They were self-timing with March 4, 1942 because full moon, no?

Lots to delve into, but primarily it is interesting that the alleged impact of that American code change was that the Japanese no longer could tell the weather. That doesn’t ring quite right.

I’m not saying weather wasn’t a decisive factor. Obviously it was, both in providing cover for an approach and clarity in an attack, as described here a month later:

Source: Fuller, J. (2015). Thor’s Legions: Weather Support to the U.S. Air Force and Army, 1937-1987. Germany: American Meteorological Society, p. 179

Perhaps even more to the point, the whole reason codes changed after December 1941 was because America’s Office of Censorship along with the US Weather Bureau strongly believed any radio broadcast of weather was a serious national security issue; for example, August 1942:

…a dense fog covered Chicago. Visibility was so low that the play-to-play commentator on the radio was almost completely unaware of the action taking place on the pitch. He struggled to transmit the match, mistaking names of the players and barely keeping the score, but he never once mentioned the reason for his handicap. The word “fog” was never uttered in the transmission and the announcer’s struggle during the live broadcast must have caused an avalanche of laughter among the listeners.

Clearly (pun not intended) weather was important data for mission success, which was an important lesson learned in the prior world war.

Because during [WWI], weather forecasting turned from a practice based on looking for repeated patterns in the past, to a mathematical model that looked towards an open future. Needless to say, a lot relied on accurate weather forecasting in wartime: aeronautics, ballistics, the drift of poison gas. But forecasts at this time were in no way reliable. …Richardson’s mathematical approach to weather forecasting was largely vindicated in the 1940s with the invention of the first digital computers, or “probability machines”. These are still the basis for much weather forecasting today.

Fun history fact, “weather front” became a phrase because modern weather forecasting was born in military predictions of weather at the front (of battle).

Thus, my complaint here is that I’m unconvinced by a simple notion that Japanese in mid-1942 couldn’t find any window for attack once they lost intercepts of American radio weather reports.

In the Pacific, the Japanese had a meteorological advantage over the Allies, thanks to Japanese weather stations ranging from Manchuria to Indochina, which allowed them to accurately predict conditions at sea.

The Japanese allegedly had sophisticated weather forecasting for the Pacific Ocean at the start of the war. And I suspect we don’t know much about it because it requires fluency in Japanese to expose better.

Another telling of the same story suggests it was a string of mechanical failures that forced three bombers out of the plan leaving only two to continue, and then those succumbed to equipment-related to navigation issues.

The H8Ks were supposed to attack in tandem, but the men in the second aircraft couldn’t hear the orders coming from the lead plane. The planes split up, and their bombs were dropped without proper targeting.

An American soldier even wrote at the time how Japanese appeared to be superior at war except in strength and equipment (such as the H8K lacking reliability and accuracy).

Source: Free Response Answer 25-0796, Survey, Attitudes of Combat Infantrymen, Questionnaire, Form E, Question 65

Thus we can’t just discount a string of weather stations that gave the Japanese advanced ability to predict clouds and rain as irrelevant to this story. In fact their model for Pacific Ocean operations was replicated by the Allies.

[Sino-American Cooperative Organization] established 70 meteorology stations throughout China, working out of caves, abandoned buildings, and military camps. Isolated teams of two or three men transmitted data three times a day to Happy Valley, where information was analyzed and relayed to the commander in chief of the Pacific. […] Located 400 miles north of Tokyo, [Inner Mongolia] Camp 4 could track weather patterns crossing central Asia to the Pacific sooner and more accurately than the Japanese.

Although, to be fair, even these advanced Allied weather stations seemed to run into hardship with the weather on long missions.

Motor Machinist’s Mate Matthew Komorowski-Kaye was stationed at Camp 3, a weather station and training facility in an abandoned Buddhist monastery…. One day he received orders to escort a convoy 1,000 miles to the east to Nationalist Chinese Column Five, which had not received supplies in more than a year. They set out in five old Chevy trucks, but as pelting rain turned the roads to rivers of mud, they had to abandon the trucks and resort to footpaths. …when they finally reached the column after 30 days, Komorowski-Kaye had dropped 30 pounds.

So much for superior equipment. At least he delivered his payload on target.

Perhaps it’s best to say that radio broadcasts out of Hawaii (observations) were an easy way to confirm conditions predicted by state-of-the-art weather stations in 1942. When a change in codes cut off the Japanese from hearing these broadcasts, their chances for mission success declined since they launched an audacious extremely long-range un-escorted “boat plane” operation that flew faster than usual weather predictions. Their equipment was prone to failures and they couldn’t pick and choose conditions for all the phases of an extremely fast plan (unlike with slow ships or short sorties from nearby bases).

Danish Navy Intercepts Pirates, Kills Four

The US Naval Institute reports that ladders in a speedboat were one indicator that led to interception near Malaysia:

The ship was responding to reports of pirate activity and heading to the scene while sending it’s embarked Royal Danish Air Force MH-60R helicopter in advance to observe the area, according to a Thursday news release from the Danish Armed Forces. The helicopter sighted a speedboat that afternoon with eight men on board in the vicinity of merchant ships in the area and observed that the boat was carrying a number of piracy-associated tools, including ladders.

By the evening, Esbern Snare was close enough to launch rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs) carrying Danish naval special forces personnel and called on the boat to halt and permit boarding, the news release said. When the boat refused to respond to the call, warning shots were fired, with the pirates responding by firing directly at the personnel in the RHIBs. A brief firefight then ensued, in which no Danish personnel were hit but five pirates were shot, with four of them killed and one wounded. The motorboat sank after the firefight and the surviving four pirates and the bodies of the dead pirates were taken aboard the frigate, where the wounded pirate was given medical treatment. The release said that Denmark’s inter-ministerial working group will handle what will happen next to the pirates.

Unregulated seas and collapse of safe markets generally is the root cause of piracy in the modern age. Someone financed a speedboat and ladders, let alone weapons.