Nash equilibria for weakest target security games with heterogeneous agents

Benjamin Johnson, Jens Grossklags, Nicolas Christin, John Chuang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

5 Scopus citations


Motivated attackers cannot always be blocked or deterred. In the physical-world security context, examples include suicide bombers and sexual predators. In computer networks, zero-day exploits unpredictably threaten the information economy and end users. In this paper, we study the conflicting incentives of individuals to act in the light of such threats. More specifically, in the weakest target game an attacker will always be able to compromise the agent (or agents) with the lowest protection level, but will leave all others unscathed. We find the game to exhibit a number of complex phenomena. It does not admit pure Nash equilibria, and when players are heterogeneous in some cases the game does not even admit mixed-strategy equilibria. Most outcomes from the weakest-target game are far from ideal. In fact, payoffs for most players in any Nash equilibrium are far worse than in the game's social optimum. However, under the rule of a social planner, average security investments are extremely low. The game thus leads to a conflict between pure economic interests, and common social norms that imply that higher levels of security are always desirable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGame Theory for Networks - Second International ICST Conference, GAMENETS 2011, Revised Selected Papers
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2012
Event2nd International ICST Conference on Game Theory in Networks, GAMENETS 2011 - Shanghai, China
Duration: Apr 16 2011Apr 18 2011

Publication series

NameLecture Notes of the Institute for Computer Sciences, Social-Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering
Volume75 LNICST
ISSN (Print)1867-8211


Other2nd International ICST Conference on Game Theory in Networks, GAMENETS 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications


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