Faculty Candidate Talk with Jens Grossklags

The SI community is invited to hear faculty candidate Jens Grossklags present his research on “Secure or Insure? Security Investment (Failures) in Five Economic Environments.” The talk will be from 1-2 p.m. Wednesday, February 18 in the Akins Room at SI North. A videocast of the talk will be available in the Ehrlicher Room, 411 West Hall. Jens is a doctoral candidate at the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley. He is interested in problems concerning information privacy, security, and the implications of interdependent systems on society. Jens will present his recent work on the economics of security.

As a main motivation for his studies, Jens cites that computer users express a strong desire to prevent attacks, and to reduce the losses from computer and information security breaches. However, despite the widespread availability of various technologies, actual investments in security remain highly variable across the Internet population. As a result, attacks such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) and spam distribution continue to spread unabated.

Users may struggle to respond vigorously because the effectiveness of security decisions is subject to strong interdependencies in a network, and different types of threats. Grossklags addresses this complexity by analyzing investment decision-making in a unified framework of established (e.g., weakest-link, best-shot) and novel games (e.g., weakest-target). He examines how incentives shift between investment opportunities in a public good (protection) and a private good (self-insurance), subject to factors such as network size, type of attack, loss probability, loss magnitude, and cost of technology. The findings highlight under which circumstances poorly aligned incentives explain the failure of security systems, and when intervention can be successful.

To promote in-depth intellectual engagement during the seminar, all are encouraged to read Jens’ paper in advance.

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