Privacy Analysis of Deep Learning in the Wild: Membership Inference Attacks against Transfer Learning

While being deployed in many critical applications as core components, machine learning (ML) models are vulnerable to various security and privacy attacks. One major privacy attack in this domain is membership inference, where an adversary aims to determine whether a target data sample is part of the training set of a target ML model. So far, most of the current membership inference attacks are evaluated against ML models trained from scratch. However, real-world ML models are typically trained following the transfer learning paradigm, where a model owner takes a pretrained model learned from a different dataset, namely teacher model, and trains her own student model by fine-tuning the teacher model with her own data. In this paper, we perform the first systematic evaluation of membership inference attacks against transfer learning models. We adopt the strategy of shadow model training to derive the data for training our membership inference classifier. Extensive experiments on four real-world image datasets show that membership inference can achieve effective performance. For instance, on the CIFAR100 classifier transferred from ResNet20 (pretrained with Caltech101), our membership inference achieves $95\%$ attack AUC. Moreover, we show that membership inference is still effective when the architecture of target model is unknown. Our results shed light on the severity of membership risks stemming from machine learning models in practice.

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