Dynamic Competition in IT Security: A Differential Games Approach


Information Systems

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Hackers evaluate potential targets to identify poorly defended firms to attack, creating competition in IT security between firms that possess similar information assets. We utilize a differential game framework to analyze the continuous time IT security investment decisions of firms in such a target group. We derive the steady state equilibrium of the duopolistic differential game, show how implicit competition induces overspending in IT defense, and then demonstrate how such overinvestment can be combated by innovatively managing the otherwise misaligned incentives for coordination. We show that in order to achieve cooperation, the firm with the higher asset value must take the lead and provide appropriate incentives to elicit participation of the other firm. Our analysis indicates that IT security planning should not remain an internal, firm-level decision, but also incorporate the actions of those firms that hackers consider as alternative targets. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]