Training Meta-Surrogate Model for Transferable Adversarial Attack

5 Sep 2021  ·  Yunxiao Qin, Yuanhao Xiong, JinFeng Yi, Cho-Jui Hsieh ·

We consider adversarial attacks to a black-box model when no queries are allowed. In this setting, many methods directly attack surrogate models and transfer the obtained adversarial examples to fool the target model. Plenty of previous works investigated what kind of attacks to the surrogate model can generate more transferable adversarial examples, but their performances are still limited due to the mismatches between surrogate models and the target model. In this paper, we tackle this problem from a novel angle -- instead of using the original surrogate models, can we obtain a Meta-Surrogate Model (MSM) such that attacks to this model can be easier transferred to other models? We show that this goal can be mathematically formulated as a well-posed (bi-level-like) optimization problem and design a differentiable attacker to make training feasible. Given one or a set of surrogate models, our method can thus obtain an MSM such that adversarial examples generated on MSM enjoy eximious transferability. Comprehensive experiments on Cifar-10 and ImageNet demonstrate that by attacking the MSM, we can obtain stronger transferable adversarial examples to fool black-box models including adversarially trained ones, with much higher success rates than existing methods. The proposed method reveals significant security challenges of deep models and is promising to be served as a state-of-the-art benchmark for evaluating the robustness of deep models in the black-box setting.

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