Carnegie Mellon University
Audit Games.pdf (883.07 kB)

Audit Games

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posted on 2014-07-01, 00:00 authored by Arunesh Sinha

Modern organizations (e.g., hospitals, banks, social networks, search engines) hold large volumes of personal information, and rely heavily on auditing for enforcement of privacy policies. These audit mechanisms combine automated methods with human input to detect and punish violators. Since human audit resources are limited, and often not sufficient to investigate all potential violations, current state-of-the -art audit tools provide heuristics to guide human effort. However, numerous reports of privacy breaches caused by malicious insiders bring to question the effectiveness of these audit mechanisms. Our thesis is that effective audit resource allocation and punishment levels can be efficiently computed by modeling the audit process as a game between a rational auditor and a rational or worst-case auditee. We present several results in support of the thesis. In the worst-case adversary setting, we design a game model taking into account organizational cost of auditing and loss from violations. We propose the notion of low regret as a desired audit property and provide a regret minimizing audit algorithm that outputs an optimal audit resource allocation strategy. The algorithm improves upon prior regret bounds in the partial information setting. In the rational adversary setting, we enable punishments by the auditor, and model the adversary's utility as a trade-off between the benefit from violations and loss due to punishment when detected. Our Stackelberg game model generalizes an existing deployed security game model with punishment parameters. It applies to natural auditing settings with multiple auditors where each auditor is restricted to audit a subset of the potential violations. We provide novel polynomial time algorithms to approximate the non-convex optimization problem used to compute the Stackelberg equilibrium. The algorithms output optimal audit resource allocation strategy and punishment levels. We also provide a method to reduce the optimization problem size, achieving up to 5x speedup for realistic instances of the audit problem, and for the related security game instances.




Degree Type

  • Dissertation


  • Electrical and Computer Engineering

Degree Name

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Anupam Datta

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