From 2007–2012, a dramatic upsurge in maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia captivated global attention. Over three hundred merchant vessels and some three thousand seafarers were held hostage with ransom amounts ranging from $200,000 to $10 million being paid to release these ships. Somali piracy operated exclusively on a kidnap-and-ransom model with crew, cargo, and ship held captive until a ransom was secured. Ransom, unlike theft or seizure, requires willing parties and systems of exchange. Ransom economies, therefore, bring together disparate actors and make visible the centrality of protection as a mode of accumulation and jurisdiction. As an analytic, this article proposes an anthropology of protection to undercut divides between legality and illegality, trade and finance, piracy and counter piracy. It argues that protection is key to apprehending processes of mobility and interruption central to global capitalism.