Towards A Critical Evaluation of Robustness for Deep Learning Backdoor Countermeasures

13 Apr 2022  ·  Huming Qiu, Hua Ma, Zhi Zhang, Alsharif Abuadbba, Wei Kang, Anmin Fu, Yansong Gao ·

Since Deep Learning (DL) backdoor attacks have been revealed as one of the most insidious adversarial attacks, a number of countermeasures have been developed with certain assumptions defined in their respective threat models. However, the robustness of these countermeasures is inadvertently ignored, which can introduce severe consequences, e.g., a countermeasure can be misused and result in a false implication of backdoor detection. For the first time, we critically examine the robustness of existing backdoor countermeasures with an initial focus on three influential model-inspection ones that are Neural Cleanse (S&P'19), ABS (CCS'19), and MNTD (S&P'21). Although the three countermeasures claim that they work well under their respective threat models, they have inherent unexplored non-robust cases depending on factors such as given tasks, model architectures, datasets, and defense hyper-parameter, which are \textit{not even rooted from delicate adaptive attacks}. We demonstrate how to trivially bypass them aligned with their respective threat models by simply varying aforementioned factors. Particularly, for each defense, formal proofs or empirical studies are used to reveal its two non-robust cases where it is not as robust as it claims or expects, especially the recent MNTD. This work highlights the necessity of thoroughly evaluating the robustness of backdoor countermeasures to avoid their misleading security implications in unknown non-robust cases.

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