Better Safe Than Sorry: Preventing Delusive Adversaries with Adversarial Training

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

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Lue Tao, Lei Feng, Jinfeng Yi, Sheng-Jun Huang, Songcan Chen


Delusive attacks aim to substantially deteriorate the test accuracy of the learning model by slightly perturbing the features of correctly labeled training examples. By formalizing this malicious attack as finding the worst-case training data within a specific $\infty$-Wasserstein ball, we show that minimizing adversarial risk on the perturbed data is equivalent to optimizing an upper bound of natural risk on the original data. This implies that adversarial training can serve as a principled defense against delusive attacks. Thus, the test accuracy decreased by delusive attacks can be largely recovered by adversarial training. To further understand the internal mechanism of the defense, we disclose that adversarial training can resist the delusive perturbations by preventing the learner from overly relying on non-robust features in a natural setting. Finally, we complement our theoretical findings with a set of experiments on popular benchmark datasets, which show that the defense withstands six different practical attacks. Both theoretical and empirical results vote for adversarial training when confronted with delusive adversaries.