CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Information Systems (DCIS)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Sumitra Mukherjee

Committee Member

Michael Lazlo

Committee Member

Peixiang Liu

Abstract

Firms lose millions of dollars every year to cyber-attacks and the risk to these companies is growing exponentially. The threat to monetary and intellectual property has made Information Technology (IT) security management a critical challenge to firms. Security devices, including Intrusion Detections Systems (IDS), are commonly used to help protect these firms from malicious users by identifying the presence of malicious network traffic. However, the actual value of these devices remains uncertain among the IT security community because of the costs associated with the implementation of different monitoring strategies that determine when to inspect potentially malicious traffic and the costs associated with false positive and negative errors. Game theoretic models have proven effective for determining the value of these devices under several conditions where firms and users are modeled as players. However, these models assume that both the firm and attacker have complete information about their opponent and lack the ability to account for more realistic situations where players have incomplete information regarding their opponent's payoffs. The proposed research develops an enhanced model that can be used for strategic decision making in IT security management where the firm is uncertain about the user's utility of intrusion. By using Harsanyi Transformation Analysis, the model provides the IT security research community with valuable insight into the value of IDS when the firm is uncertain of the incentives and payoffs available to users choosing to hack. Specifically, this dissertation considers two possible types of users with different utility for intrusion to gain further insights about the players' strategies. The firm's optimal strategy is to start the game with the expected value of the user's utility as an estimate. Under this strategy, the firm can determine the user's utility with certainty within one iteration of the game. After the first iteration, the game may be analyzed as a game of perfect information.

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