WEIS 2009

Competitive Cyber-Insurance and Internet Security

Abstract

  • This paper investigates how competitive cyber-insurers affect network security and welfare of the networked society. In our model, a userís probability to incur damage (from being attacked) depends on both his security and the network security, with the latter taken by individual users as given. First, we consider cyber-insurers who cannot observe (and thus, affect) individual user security. This asymmetric information causes moral hazard. Then, for most parameters, no equilibrium exists: the insurance market is missing. Even if an equilibrium exists, the insurance contract covers only a minor fraction of the damage; network security worsens relative to the no-insurance equilibrium. Second, we consider insurers with perfect information about their usersí security. Here, user security is perfectly enforceable (zero cost); each insurance contract stipulates the required user security. The unique equilibrium contract covers the entire user damage. Still, for most parameters, network security worsens relative to the no-insurance equilibrium. Although cyber-insurance improves user welfare, in general, competitive cyber-insurers fail to improve network security.

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