Optimal Cyber-Defense Strategies For Advanced Persistent Threats: A Game Theoretical Analysis

Open Access
Acquaviva, Jeffrey R
Graduate Program:
Computer Science and Engineering
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
March 21, 2017
Committee Members:
  • Tom LaPorta, Thesis Advisor
  • Mark Mahon, Committee Member
  • Bruce Einfalt, Committee Member
  • Network Security
  • Game Theory
  • Advanced Persistent Threats
  • Zero-Sum Games
  • Cyber attack modeling
This thesis introduces a novel model of Advanced Persistent Threats in a network, and uses game theory to compute the optimal defense strategies to counter these attacks. Performance of equilibrium strategies are compared to other intuitive but sub-optimal strategies as well as their best-responses. Parallels are drawn between the strategies computed by this novel model and the canonical security paradigms of Defense-in-Depth and Perimeter Defense. It is shown that defense-in-depth may not be optimal when the defender is budget constrained. Lastly, two use-cases are presented to demonstrate how this model can be used in real-world scenarios.