Contact Info

Rick Wash
404 Wilson Rd #402
402 Communication Arts and Sciences
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824

Cell: (734) 730-1188
Office: (517) 355-2381

Incentive Centered Design and Information Security

by: Rick Wash and Jeffrey MacKie-Mason


Humans are “smart components” in a system, but cannot be directly programmed to perform; rather, their autonomy must be respected as a design constraint and incentives provided to induce desired behavior. Sometimes these incentives are properly aligned, and the humans don’t represent a vulnerability. But often, a misalignment of incentives causes a weakness in the system that can be exploited by clever attackers. Incentive-centered design tools help us understand these problems, and provide design principles to alleviate them. We describe incentive-centered design and some tools it provides. We provide a number of examples of security problems for which Incentive Centered Design might be helpful. We elaborate with a general screening model that offers strong design principles for a class of security problems.


Rick Wash and Jeffrey MacKie-Mason. “Incentive Centered Design and Information Security.”First Workshop on Hot Topics in Security (HotSec).July 2006.

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