The Potential for Underinvestment in Internet Security: Implications for Regulatory Policy
20 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2006
With the continuing growth of the use of the Internet for business purposes, the consequences of a possible cyber attack that could create a large scale outage of long time duration becomes a more and more serious economic issue. In this paper, we construct a game-theoretic model that addresses the economic motivations for investment in added Internet security and makes a case for a possible market failure in the form of underinvestment in the provision of Internet security. This result relies on the fact that the social value derived from consumption (which is at least equal to a fraction of the surplus derived from e-commerce) greatly exceeds the revenue at stake associated with the telecommunications companies' and ISP's security levels. If the ratio of social value to revenue at stake to Internet providers continues to grow, the likelihood of underinvestment in security becomes higher and some form of regulation may become necessary. We discuss the difficulties associated with designing and enforcing a regulatory scheme based upon mandatory security standards.
Keywords: Internet Security, Market Failure, Game Theory, Nash Equilibrium, Markov Perfect Equilibrium
JEL Classification: L51, L86, C72, C73, K23
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