Defending against Cyber Attacks: New Models for Deterrence

Principal Investigator: Heather Rosoff
Other Researchers: Richard John, Detlof von Winterfeldt
In a society that continues to increasingly rely on cyber infrastructures in our everyday lives and in particular in our defense systems, protecting these systems is critical for national security. These critical systems, however, have different challenges than national defense systems studied during the development of traditional deterrence models for Cold War adversaries. In this proposed research, we will expand upon this current stream of research and develop a new method to model deterrent strategies that applies to cyber communications infrastructures. We propose using value focused thinking (VFT) (Keeney, 1992) and multi-attribute utility (MAU) modeling to develop adversarial and defender decision models (Rosoff & John, 2009; Keeney & von Winterfeldt, 2010; John & Rosoff, 2011). The VFT approach will help to ensure a comprehensive and complete set of objectives (developed as objectives hierarchies) and hence generate a wider range of possible cyber-based attack methods for the adversaries, and a diversified set of deterrent strategies for the defender. From the objectives hierarchies, MAU models will be constructed for different adversary groups and for different defenders allowing for an assessment of the stakeholders’ uncertainties, risk attitudes, and trade-offs among conflicting objectives. For the adversary groups, the MAU models will be used to evaluate alternative cyber-based attack methods, and for the defenders, the MAU models will be used to evaluate alternative deterrence strategies.