Mitigating Sybils in Federated Learning Poisoning

14 Aug 2018  ·  Clement Fung, Chris J. M. Yoon, Ivan Beschastnikh ·

Machine learning (ML) over distributed multi-party data is required for a variety of domains. Existing approaches, such as federated learning, collect the outputs computed by a group of devices at a central aggregator and run iterative algorithms to train a globally shared model. Unfortunately, such approaches are susceptible to a variety of attacks, including model poisoning, which is made substantially worse in the presence of sybils. In this paper we first evaluate the vulnerability of federated learning to sybil-based poisoning attacks. We then describe \emph{FoolsGold}, a novel defense to this problem that identifies poisoning sybils based on the diversity of client updates in the distributed learning process. Unlike prior work, our system does not bound the expected number of attackers, requires no auxiliary information outside of the learning process, and makes fewer assumptions about clients and their data. In our evaluation we show that FoolsGold exceeds the capabilities of existing state of the art approaches to countering sybil-based label-flipping and backdoor poisoning attacks. Our results hold for different distributions of client data, varying poisoning targets, and various sybil strategies. Code can be found at:

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