Game theory meets information security management

Andrew Fielder, Emmanouil Panaousis, Pasquale Malacaria, Chris Hankin, Fabrizio Smeraldi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


This work addresses the challenge “how do we make better security decisions?” and it develops techniques to support human decision making and algorithms which enable well-founded cyber security decisions to be made. In this paper we propose a game theoretic model which optimally allocates cyber security resources such as administrators’ time across different tasks. We first model the interactions between an omnipresentattackerand a team of system administrators seen as thedefender, and we have derived themixed Nash Equilibria (NE) in such games. We have formulated general-sum games that represent our cyber security environment, and we have proven that the defender’sNash strategyis alsominimax. This result guarantees that independently from the attacker’s strategy the defender’s solution is optimal. We also proposeSingular Value Decomposition(SVD) as an efficient technique to compute approximate equilibria in our games. By implementing and evaluating aminimax solver with SVD, we have thoroughly investigated the improvement that Nash defense introduces compared to other strategies chosen by common sense decision algorithms. Our key finding is that a particular NE, which we callweighted NE, provides the most effective defense strategy. In order to validate this model we have used real-life statistics from Hackmageddon, the Verizon 2013 Data Breach Investigation report, and the Ponemon report of 2011. We finally compare the game theoretic defense method with a method which implements astochastic optimization algorithm.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication29th IFIP International Information Security and Privacy Conference
Place of PublicationBerlin Heidelberg
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9783642554155
ISBN (Print)9783642554148
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2014
Event29th IFIP International Information Security and Privacy Conference - Morocco, 2-4 June 2014
Duration: 2 Jun 2014 → …

Publication series

NameIFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology


Conference29th IFIP International Information Security and Privacy Conference
Period2/06/14 → …

Bibliographical note

The original publication is available at


  • Information security management
  • game theory
  • cyber security


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