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Gaming the System: A Game Theoretic Approach to Risk Management and Cybersecurity

Abigail Breitenbucher

Name: Abigail Breitenbucher
Major: Mathematics
Minors: Anthropology, History
Advisor: Dr. Colby Long
Second Reader: Dr. Subhadip Chowdhury

The goals of this project were to learn more about game theory, including relevant subfields, and understand how it relates to different application fields. To that end, we detail two fields of game theory, traditional and evolutionary. Traditional game theory is a framework for understanding cooperation and competition in games, which evolutionary game theory builds on to look at how populations’ strategies evolve over time. After establishing foundational concepts in both fields, we explore risk management and cybersecurity through a game theoretic lens, focusing on some current applications in both. For our purposes, risk management encompasses the techniques a business uses to mitigate damage caused by risk factors (natural disasters, financial collapse, employee retention, etc.) and cybersecurity focuses on measures to protect systems and information. The research culminates in an application case of a game theoretic model for the 2017 Equifax data breach. We take a framework used to build a game theoretic model for a risk management scenario to discuss the Equifax breach, finding a possible strategy profile that Equifax could have used to avoid the breach. To conclude, we discuss the implications of this model and future work involving evolutionary game theory in cybersecurity/risk management.

This project provides a new way to understand the connections between models in game theory and risk management/cybersecurity. We introduce evolutionary game theory as a field of interest for future research, particularly research focused on internal attacker situations.

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Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2022.


One response to “Gaming the System: A Game Theoretic Approach to Risk Management and Cybersecurity”

  1. Jillian Morrison says:

    Abigail – Great work! I always enjoy listening to work that uses existing theory to apply to new situations! Cybersecurity is definitely a super important field since everything is going online these days. We use online things all the time without even thinking too much about it – our phones, our watches, our laptops etc.. I hope that this can be expanded upon by you or someone else so that cybersecurity can be made better.

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