Defending Against Machine Learning Based Inference Attacks via Adversarial Examples: Opportunities and Challenges

Jinyuan Jia, Neil Zhenqiang Gong

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

9 Scopus citations


As machine learning (ML) becomes more and more powerful and easily accessible, attackers increasingly leverage ML to perform automated large-scale inference attacks in various domains. In such an ML-equipped inference attack, an attacker has access to some data (called public data) of an individual, a software, or a system; and the attacker uses an ML classifier to automatically infer their private data. Inference attacks pose severe privacy and security threats to individuals and systems. Inference attacks are successful because private data are statistically correlated with public data, and ML classifiers can capture such statistical correlations. In this chapter, we discuss the opportunities and challenges of defending against ML-equipped inference attacks via adversarial examples. Our key observation is that attackers rely on ML classifiers in inference attacks. The adversarial machine learning community has demonstrated that ML classifiers have various vulnerabilities. Therefore, we can turn the vulnerabilities of ML into defenses against inference attacks. For example, ML classifiers are vulnerable to adversarial examples, which add carefully crafted noise to normal examples such that an ML classifier makes predictions for the examples as we desire. To defend against inference attacks, we can add carefully crafted noise into the public data to turn them into adversarial examples, such that attackers’ classifiers make incorrect predictions for the private data. However, existing methods to construct adversarial examples are insufficient because they did not consider the unique challenges and requirements for the crafted noise at defending against inference attacks. In this chapter, we take defending against inference attacks in online social networks as an example to illustrate the opportunities and challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdaptive Autonomous Secure Cyber Systems
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783030334321
ISBN (Print)9783030334314
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science

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