A Hypergame Analysis for ErsatzPasswords

  • Christopher N. GutierrezEmail author
  • Mohammed H. Almeshekah
  • Saurabh Bagchi
  • Eugene H. Spafford
Conference paper
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT, volume 529)


A hypergame is a game theoretic model capturing the decisions of rational players in a conflict where misperceptions, from deception or information asymmetry, are present. We demonstrate how hypergames can model an actual security mechanism: ErsatzPassword, a defense mechanism to protect password hashes from offline brute-force attacks. Two ErsatzPassword defensive strategies are considered: to block the attacker and trigger an alarm, or to redirect the attacker into a honeynet for attack analysis. We consider the scenario where there is information asymmetry in the system and one side under-estimates or over-estimates the risk tolerance of the other side. We analyze plausible strategies for both attacker and defender and then solve 57,600 hypergame configurations to determine the optimal 1st line defense strategies under various levels of risk tolerance and misperceptions.


Computer security Deception Game theory 



The authors acknowledge Jeffery Avery and Paul Wood for their insightful discussion on early versions of this work. Special thanks to the US National Science Foundation for supporting this research through EAGER Grant #1548114.


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS), Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia

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