Punctuation-level Attack: Single-shot and Single Punctuation Can Fool Text Models

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


wenqiang wang, Chongyang Du, Tao Wang, Kaihao Zhang, Wenhan Luo, Lin Ma, Wei Liu, Xiaochun Cao


The adversarial attacks have attracted increasing attention in various fields including natural language processing. The current textual attacking models primarily focus on fooling models by adding character-/word-/sentence-level perturbations, ignoring their influence on human perception. In this paper, for the first time in the community, we propose a novel mode of textual attack, punctuation-level attack. With various types of perturbations, including insertion, displacement, deletion, and replacement, the punctuation-level attack achieves promising fooling rates against SOTA models on typical textual tasks and maintains minimal influence on human perception and understanding of the text by mere perturbation of single-shot single punctuation. Furthermore, we propose a search method named Text Position Punctuation Embedding and Paraphrase (TPPEP) to accelerate the pursuit of optimal position to deploy the attack, without exhaustive search, and we present a mathematical interpretation of TPPEP. Thanks to the integrated Text Position Punctuation Embedding (TPPE), the punctuation attack can be applied at a constant cost of time. Experimental results on public datasets and SOTA models demonstrate the effectiveness of the punctuation attack and the proposed TPPE. We additionally apply the single punctuation attack to summarization, semantic-similarity-scoring, and text-to-image tasks, and achieve encouraging results.