Game theoretic modeling of security and interdependency in a public cloud

Charles A. Kamhoua, Luke Kwiat, Kevin A. Kwiat, Joon S. Park, Ming Zhao, Manuel Rodriguez

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemConference contribution

39 Scopus citations


As cloud computing thrives, many small organizations are joining a public cloud to take advantage of its multiple benefits. Cloud computing is cost efficient, i.e., cloud user can reduce spending on technology infrastructure and have easy access to their information without up-front or long-term commitment of resources. Moreover, a cloud user can dynamically grow and shrink the resources provisioned to an application on demand. Despite those benefits, cyber security concern is the main reason many large organizations with sensitive information such as the Department of Defense have been reluctant to join a public cloud. This is because different public cloud users share a common platform such as the hypervisor. A common platform intensifies the well-known problem of cyber security interdependency. In fact, an attacker can compromise a virtual machine (VM) to launch an attack on the hypervisor which if compromised can instantly yield the compromising of all the VMs running on top of that hypervisor. Therefore, a user that does not invest in cyber security imposes a negative externality on others. This research uses the mathematical framework of game theory to analyze the cause and effect of interdependency in a public cloud platform. This work shows that there are multiple possible Nash equilibria of the public cloud security game. However, the players use a specific Nash equilibrium profile depending on the probability that the hypervisor is compromised given a successful attack on a user and the total expense required to invest in security. Finally, there is no Nash equilibrium in which all the users in a public cloud will fully invest in security.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2014 IEEE 7th International Conference on Cloud Computing, CLOUD 2014
EditorsCarl Kesselman
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781479950638
StatePublished - Dec 3 2014
Event7th IEEE International Conference on Cloud Computing, CLOUD 2014 - Anchorage, United States
Duration: Jun 27 2014Jul 2 2014

Publication series

NameIEEE International Conference on Cloud Computing, CLOUD
ISSN (Print)2159-6182
ISSN (Electronic)2159-6190


Other7th IEEE International Conference on Cloud Computing, CLOUD 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Cloud computing
  • cyber security
  • externalities
  • game theory
  • interdependency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Information Systems
  • Software


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