Game-Theoretic Foundations for the Strategic Use of Honeypots in Network Security

  • Christopher Kiekintveld
  • Viliam Lisý
  • Radek Píbil
Part of the Advances in Information Security book series (ADIS, volume 56)


An important element in the mathematical and scientific foundations for security is modeling the strategic use of deception and information manipulation. We argue that game theory provides an important theoretical framework for reasoning about information manipulation in adversarial settings, including deception and randomization strategies. In addition, game theory has practical uses in determining optimal strategies for randomized patrolling and resource allocation. We discuss three game-theoretic models that capture aspects of how honeypots can be used in network security. Honeypots are fake hosts introduced into a network to gather information about attackers and to distract them from real targets. They are a limited resource, so there are important strategic questions about how to deploy them to the greatest effect, which is fundamentally about deceiving attackers into choosing fake targets instead of real ones to attack. We describe several game models that address strategies for deploying honeypots, including a basic honeypot selection game, an extension of this game that allows additional probing actions by the attacker, and finally a version in which attacker strategies are represented using attack graphs. We conclude with a discussion of the strengths and limitations of game theory in the context of network security.


Nash Equilibrium Game Theory Solution Concept Network Security Game Model 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported by the Office of Naval Research Global (grant no. N62909-13-1-N256), and the Czech Science Foundation (grant no. P202/12/2054). Viliam Lisý is a member of the Czech Chapter of The Honeynet Project.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Kiekintveld
    • 1
  • Viliam Lisý
    • 2
  • Radek Píbil
    • 2
  1. 1.Computer Science DepartmentUniversity of Texas at El PasoEl PasoUSA
  2. 2.Agent Technology Center, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Faculty of Electrical EngineeringCzech Technical University in PraguePragueCzech Republic

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