The “Blame Game” was developed in part by Robert Axelrod, a University of Michigan political scientist who is well known for solving a version of the classic game theory scenario known as “the prisoner’s dilemma.” Axelrod is the Walgreen Professor for the Study of Human Understanding at the U-M Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

The University of Michigan says that the new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examines when a victim should tolerate a cyberattack, when a victim should respond — and how.

Conflict is increasingly common and severe on the internet today, as governments and corporations have recognized its potential as an instrument of power and control,” said Stephanie Forrest, a distinguished professor at the University of New Mexico and an external faculty member at the Santa Fe Institute.

In many cases, it may be rational for nations to tolerate cyberattacks, even in the face of strong public criticism.

You might think you should always publicly blame and retaliate in a cyberwarfare situation,” Axelrod said. “But that’s not true. The reason it’s not is that the attacker may not be vulnerable. It may not matter whether they’re blamed or not. And if that’s true, you might be in a situation where if you assign blame, your own people would expect you to do something, but there’s nothing you can do.”