Modeling and Analysis of Leaky Deception Using Signaling Games with Evidence

Jeffrey Pawlick, Edward Colbert, Quanyan Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Deception plays critical roles in economics and technology, especially in emerging interactions in cyberspace. Holistic models of deception are needed in order to analyze interactions and to design mechanisms that improve them. Game theory provides such models. In particular, existing work models deception using signaling games. But signaling games inherently model deception that is undetectable. In this paper, we extend signaling games by including a detector that gives off probabilistic warnings when the sender acts deceptively. Then, we derive pooling and partially separating equilibria of the game. We find that: 1) high quality detectors eliminate some pure-strategy equilibria; 2) detectors with high true-positive rates encourage more honest signaling than detectors with low false-positive rates; 3) receivers obtain optimal outcomes for equal-error-rate detectors; and 4) surprisingly, deceptive senders sometimes benefit from highly accurate deception detectors. We illustrate these results with an application to defensive deception for network security. Our results provide a quantitative and rigorous analysis of the fundamental aspects of detectable deception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8573896
Pages (from-to)1871-1886
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Information Forensics and Security
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Deception
  • game theory
  • signaling game
  • strategic communication
  • trust management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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