While their actions were inherently illegal, the morals of various pirates varied considerably. Some were cutthroat brigands who were petty murderers or thieves, but others, such as Nym, had a set of morals that prohibited killing the innocent, and generally restricted their actions to the rich. Other pirates, referred to as "privateers," operated under the sanction of governments or organizations like the Alliance to Restore the Republic. Privateers tended to hold themselves to a more "civilized" standard than other pirates, and restricted their activities to specific targets. Most pirates were orphans or citizens that were unemployed because of either being uneducated or having a lust for adventure, riches or anarchy.
Indeed, on a few occasions, pirates have pulled through to help the galaxy as a whole. Nym himself aided the Naboo around the time of the Battle of Naboo by destroying a Trade Federation droid foundry on Eos, and helping the Naboo resistance hold off an army attempting to flank the Gungans on the Naboo plains.
A popular weapon of space pirates was the ion cannon. The ion cannon could disable an entire ship, making it easier to board and loot. Some pirate gangs operated as two groups: the boarding group and the attack group. The attack group would disable the ship and its weapons, and the boarding group would breach the ship's hull to steal or plunder whatever they could find (credits, chronos, comlinks and blasters).
The most identifiable symbol of the pirate was the Blazing Claw.