Finding Naturally Occurring Physical Backdoors in Image Datasets

Emily Wenger · Roma Bhattacharjee · Arjun Nitin Bhagoji · Josephine Passananti · Emilio Andere · Heather Zheng · Ben Zhao

Hall J #1015

Keywords: [ security ] [ machine learning ] [ backdoors ]

[ Abstract ]
[ Paper [ Poster [ OpenReview
Wed 30 Nov 2 p.m. PST — 4 p.m. PST


Extensive literature on backdoor poison attacks has studied attacks and defenses for backdoors using “digital trigger patterns.” In contrast, “physical backdoors” use physical objects as triggers, have only recently been identified, and are qualitatively different enough to resist most defenses targeting digital trigger backdoors. Research on physical backdoors is limited by access to large datasets containing real images of physical objects co-located with misclassification targets. Building these datasets is time- and labor-intensive.This work seeks to address the challenge of accessibility for research on physical backdoor attacks. We hypothesize that there may be naturally occurring physically co-located objects already present in popular datasets such as ImageNet. Once identified, a careful relabeling of these data can transform them into training samples for physical backdoor attacks. We propose a method to scalably identify these subsets of potential triggers in existing datasets, along with the specific classes they can poison. We call these naturally occurring trigger-class subsets natural backdoor datasets. Our techniques successfully identify natural backdoors in widely-available datasets, and produce models behaviorally equivalent to those trained on manually curated datasets. We release our code to allow the research community to create their own datasets for research on physical backdoor attacks.

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