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Workshop: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Better (ICBINB): Failure Modes in the Age of Foundation Models

Adversarial Attacks and Defenses in Large Language Models: Old and New Threats

Leo Schwinn · David Dobre · Stephan Günnemann · Gauthier Gidel


Over the past decade, there has been extensive research aimed at enhancing the robustness of neural networks, yet this problem remains vastly unsolved. Here, one major impediment has been the overestimation of the robustness of new defense approaches due to faulty defense evaluations. Flawed robustness evaluations necessitate rectifications in subsequent works, dangerously slowing down the research and providing a false sense of security. In this context, we will face substantial challenges associated with an impending adversarial arms race in natural language processing, specifically with closed-source Large Language Models (LLMs), such as ChatGPT, Google Bard, or Anthropic’s Claude. We provide a first set of prerequisites to improve the robustness assessment of new approaches and reduce the amount of faulty evaluations. Additionally, we identify embedding space attacks on LLMs as another viable threat model for the purposes of generating malicious content in open-sourced models. Finally, we demonstrate on a recently proposed defense that, without LLM-specific best practices in place, it is easy to overestimate the robustness of a new approach. Code is available at

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