Toronto Networking Seminar

Organized by Department of Computer Science and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Toronto

Secure or Insure? A Game Theoretic Analysis of Information
Security Games

Nicolas Christin
Information Networking Institute
Carnegie Mellon University


Date: Friday, October 16, 2pm
Location: BA 1210 


Security interactions in networked systems, and the associated user choices, due to their complexity, are notoriously difficult to predict, and sometimes even harder to rationalize. We argue that users often underestimate the strong mutual dependence between their security strategies and the economic environment (e.g., threat model) in which these choices are made and evaluated. This misunderstanding weakens the effectiveness of users' security investments. We study how economic agents invest into security in different economic environments, which are characteristic of different threat models. We notably explore Nash equilibrium predictions for the environments considered, and contrast them with social optima. We further discuss the effect of relaxing assumptions on the amount of information available to users before they make a decision.
(Joint work with Jens Grossklags and Benjamin Johnson).


Nicolas Christin is the Associate Director of the Information Networking Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, where he also serves as a faculty member. He is in addition a CyLab Systems Scientist, and (by courtesy) a faculty member in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department. He holds a Diplôme d'Ingénieur from École Centrale Lille, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from the University of Virginia. While in graduate school, he worked at Nortel's Advanced Technology Lab. Before joining Carnegie Mellon in 2005, he was a post-doctoral researcher in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley. He served for three years as resident faculty in the CyLab Japan program in Kobe (Japan), before returning to Carnegie Mellon's main campus in 2008. His research interests are in computer and information systems networks; most of his work is at the boundary of systems and policy research, with a slant toward security aspects. He has most recently focused on network security and its economics, incentive-compatible network topology design, and peer-to-peer security.

Host of the talk

Jörg Liebeherr (