Cyber Deterrence with Imperfect Attribution and Unverifiable Signaling

Published in: European Journal of Operational Research (2022) doi: 10.1016/j.ejor.2022.07.021

Posted on RAND.org on July 25, 2022

by Jonathan W. Welburn, Justin Grana, Karen Schwindt

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Motivated by the asymmetric information inherent to cyberwarfare, we examine a game of deterrence between an attacker and a defender in which the defender can signal its retaliatory capability but can only imperfectly attribute an attack. We show that there are equilibria in which the defender sends noisy signals to increase its expected payoff. In some equilibria, the defender can use signaling to deter an attacker and increase its payoff. In a different and somewhat counter-intuitive equilibrium, the defender can increase its expected payoff through signaling by luring the attacker to attack more.

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