Keywords: [ Robust Collaborative Inference ] [ adversarial machine learning ] [ Robust Decomposition ] [ Vertical Federated Inference ] [ Feature Purification ]
Collaborative inference leverages diverse features provided by different agents (e.g., sensors) for more accurate inference. A common setup is where each agent sends its embedded features instead of the raw data to the Fusion Center (FC) for joint prediction. In this setting, we consider the inference-time attacks when a small fraction of agents are compromised. The compromised agent either does not send embedded features to the FC, or sends arbitrarily embedded features. To address this, we propose a certifiably robust COllaborative inference framework via feature PURification (CoPur), by leveraging the block-sparse nature of adversarial perturbations on the feature vector, as well as exploring the underlying redundancy across the embedded features (by assuming the overall features lie on an underlying lower dimensional manifold). We theoretically show that the proposed feature purification method can robustly recover the true feature vector, despite adversarial corruptions and/or incomplete observations. We also propose and test an untargeted distributed feature-flipping attack, which is agnostic to the model, training data, label, as well as the features held by other agents, and is shown to be effective in attacking state-of-the-art defenses. Experiments on ExtraSensory and NUS-WIDE datasets show that CoPur significantly outperforms existing defenses in terms of robustness against targeted and untargeted adversarial attacks.