[Resource Topic] 2024/862: BackdoorIndicator: Leveraging OOD Data for Proactive Backdoor Detection in Federated Learning

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BackdoorIndicator: Leveraging OOD Data for Proactive Backdoor Detection in Federated Learning

Authors: Songze Li, Yanbo Dai


In a federated learning (FL) system, decentralized data owners (clients) could upload their locally trained models to a central server, to jointly train a global model. Malicious clients may plant backdoors into the global model through uploading poisoned local models, causing misclassification to a target class when encountering attacker-defined triggers. Existing backdoor defenses show inconsistent performance under different system and adversarial settings, especially when the malicious updates are made statistically close to the benign ones. In this paper, we first reveal the fact that planting subsequent backdoors with the same target label could significantly help to maintain the accuracy of previously planted back- doors, and then propose a novel proactive backdoor detection mechanism for FL named BackdoorIndicator, which has the server inject indicator tasks into the global model leveraging out-of-distribution (OOD) data, and then utilizing the fact that any backdoor samples are OOD samples with respect to benign samples, the server, who is completely agnostic of the potential backdoor types and target labels, can accurately detect the presence of backdoors in uploaded models, via evaluating the indicator tasks. We perform systematic and extensive empirical studies to demonstrate the consistently superior performance and practicality of BackdoorIndicator over baseline defenses, across a wide range of system and adversarial settings.

ePrint: https://eprint.iacr.org/2024/862

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