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Equilibria in Epidemic Containment Games

Last modified: 2014-06-21

#### Abstract

The spread of epidemics and malware is commonly modeled by diffusion processes on networks. Protective interventions such as vaccinations or installing anti-virus software are used to contain their spread. Typically, each node in the network has to decide its own strategy of securing itself, and its benefit depends on which other nodes are secure, making this a natural game-theoretic setting. There has been a lot of work on network security game models, but most of the focus has been either on simplified epidemic models or homogeneous network structure. We develop a new formulation for an epidemic containment game, which relies on the characterization of the SIS model in terms of the spectral radius of the network. We show in this model that pure Nash equilibria (NE) always exist, and can be found by a best response strategy. We analyze the complexity of finding NE, and derive rigorous bounds on their costs and the Price of Anarchy or PoA (the ratio of the cost of the worst NE to the optimum social cost) in general graphs as well as in random graph models. In particular, for arbitrary power-law graphs with exponent $\beta>2$, we show that the PoA is bounded by $O(T^{2(\beta-1)})$, where $T=\gamma/\alpha$ is the ratio of the recovery rate to the transmission rate in the SIS model. We prove that this bound is tight up to a constant factor for the Chung-Lu random power-law graph model. We study the characteristics of Nash equilibria empirically in different real communication and infrastructure networks, and find that our analytical results can help explain some of the empirical observations.

#### Keywords

Network Security Game; Nash Equilibria; Malware Propagation; Epidemic Control; Security; Protection; Game Theory; Graph Theory; Spectral Radius

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