Exploring Backdoor Attacks against Large Language Model-based Decision Making

27 May 2024  ·  Ruochen Jiao, Shaoyuan Xie, Justin Yue, Takami Sato, Lixu Wang, YiXuan Wang, Qi Alfred Chen, Qi Zhu ·

Large Language Models (LLMs) have shown significant promise in decision-making tasks when fine-tuned on specific applications, leveraging their inherent common sense and reasoning abilities learned from vast amounts of data. However, these systems are exposed to substantial safety and security risks during the fine-tuning phase. In this work, we propose the first comprehensive framework for Backdoor Attacks against LLM-enabled Decision-making systems (BALD), systematically exploring how such attacks can be introduced during the fine-tuning phase across various channels. Specifically, we propose three attack mechanisms and corresponding backdoor optimization methods to attack different components in the LLM-based decision-making pipeline: word injection, scenario manipulation, and knowledge injection. Word injection embeds trigger words directly into the query prompt. Scenario manipulation occurs in the physical environment, where a high-level backdoor semantic scenario triggers the attack. Knowledge injection conducts backdoor attacks on retrieval augmented generation (RAG)-based LLM systems, strategically injecting word triggers into poisoned knowledge while ensuring the information remains factually accurate for stealthiness. We conduct extensive experiments with three popular LLMs (GPT-3.5, LLaMA2, PaLM2), using two datasets (HighwayEnv, nuScenes), and demonstrate the effectiveness and stealthiness of our backdoor triggers and mechanisms. Finally, we critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of our proposed approaches, highlight the inherent vulnerabilities of LLMs in decision-making tasks, and evaluate potential defenses to safeguard LLM-based decision making systems.

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